I recently found myself in possession of a black truffle the size of a small grenade, and my initial, panicky thought was: what do I do? The truth is, the truffle intimidated me. I'm not a food bumpkin, and I've gamely eaten my share of exotic delicacies, some involving reindeer and obscure cacti, but I found it completely impossible to be in the presence of a truffle without worrying about its rarity, status and outrageous Medellín-cartel-range expense.
I stood for a while with the truffle in the palm of my hand, hefting it lightly, experiencing a wave of anxiety similar to what I had felt the day I brought my newborn baby home from the hospital. Like my truffle, he, too, was expensive, rare, fragile and could be weighed in ounces. In both cases, I felt entirely inadequate to the task.
I thought back to the first time I'd ever eaten truffles. I was at an Italian restaurant at lunchtime and a very cute waiter, whose name, I decided, was Fabrizio, stood beside me relentlessly shaving flakes of white truffles into my bowl of pasta until I had to beg him to stop. I left that restaurant hours later, walking out into the fading light feeling oddly fungus drunk. That day, I began to understand the allure of truffles, and yet I wasn't sure I could describe it if anyone asked. Forget homosexuality; maybe truffle worship is really the love that dare not speak its name.