French use genetic coding tools to root out truffle fraud

Barry James/IHT International Herald Tribune

Saturday, January 11, 2003
PARIS A French research laboratory has unraveled the genetic code of the famed black truffles from the Perigord region, finally giving anti-fraud inspectors a tool to distinguish between the pricey French fungus and a Chinese competitor that looks identical but tastes insipid.
.
Since the French variety costs more than E300 a kilogram, or about $150 per pound, and the Chinese imports cost only E20, “there are clear temptations to pass one off as the other,” according to Michel Courvoisier, who heads a federation of truffle growers.
.
The golf-ball sized, earthy-odored delicacies grow around the roots of oak trees and are sniffed out by pigs or specially trained dogs.
.
Courvoisier agreed that it takes an expert to distinguish between the classic tuber melanosporum from the French southwest, and the Chinese tuber indicum. The smells are similar. The proof comes only with the eating.
.
A little of a pungent Perigord truffle goes a long way and leaves a lingering aftertaste that has made it one of the most sought-after ingredients of high cuisine since Marcus Gavius Apicius wrote the first known cook book in the first century.
.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin described truffles as the “diamond of cookery” in his Physiology of Taste, published in 1825. Some say they are aphrodisiacs, and Madame de Pompadour is said to have fed truffles to Louis XV to revive his flagging ardor.
.
President Jacques Chirac has kept up the traditional aristocratic taste for the black delicacy. The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoe, tried to get Chirac indicted for running up huge grocery bills – including bills for large amounts of foie gras and truffles – when he was running City Hall. A special judicial panel ruled last month that the president was immune from prosecution while in office, but lower ranking aides could still be in trouble.
.
The Chinese truffle carries no such historical or cultural associations. Along with cut-price frogs’ legs from Eastern Europe, it has been imported in increasing quantities since the mid 1990s. There is no official complaint about the imports so long as they are sold as what they are – a cheap fungus variety from Asia.
.
When sold, it even smells like its French cousin, but experts say the taste all but disappears in cooking. The trouble therefore begins when traders start passing them off as the produce of Perigord.
.
At the request of the consumer protection department of the French Finance Ministry, the National Institute of Agronomic Research developed a DNA test that will now be used as a benchmark to distinguish true French truffles from their Chinese rivals. It will also be used to check that other products purporting to contain French truffles, such as preserves, cold meats and sausages, actually are what they claim to be. < < Back to Start of Article
PARIS A French research laboratory has unraveled the genetic code of the famed black truffles from the Perigord region, finally giving anti-fraud inspectors a tool to distinguish between the pricey French fungus and a Chinese competitor that looks identical but tastes insipid.
.
Since the French variety costs more than E300 a kilogram, or about $150 per pound, and the Chinese imports cost only E20, “there are clear temptations to pass one off as the other,” according to Michel Courvoisier, who heads a federation of truffle growers.
.
The golf-ball sized, earthy-odored delicacies grow around the roots of oak trees and are sniffed out by pigs or specially trained dogs.
.
Courvoisier agreed that it takes an expert to distinguish between the classic tuber melanosporum from the French southwest, and the Chinese tuber indicum. The smells are similar. The proof comes only with the eating.
.
A little of a pungent Perigord truffle goes a long way and leaves a lingering aftertaste that has made it one of the most sought-after ingredients of high cuisine since Marcus Gavius Apicius wrote the first known cook book in the first century.
.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin described truffles as the “diamond of cookery” in his Physiology of Taste, published in 1825. Some say they are aphrodisiacs, and Madame de Pompadour is said to have fed truffles to Louis XV to revive his flagging ardor.
.
President Jacques Chirac has kept up the traditional aristocratic taste for the black delicacy. The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoe, tried to get Chirac indicted for running up huge grocery bills – including bills for large amounts of foie gras and truffles – when he was running City Hall. A special judicial panel ruled last month that the president was immune from prosecution while in office, but lower ranking aides could still be in trouble.
.
The Chinese truffle carries no such historical or cultural associations. Along with cut-price frogs’ legs from Eastern Europe, it has been imported in increasing quantities since the mid 1990s. There is no official complaint about the imports so long as they are sold as what they are – a cheap fungus variety from Asia.
.
When sold, it even smells like its French cousin, but experts say the taste all but disappears in cooking. The trouble therefore begins when traders start passing them off as the produce of Perigord.
.
At the request of the consumer protection department of the French Finance Ministry, the National Institute of Agronomic Research developed a DNA test that will now be used as a benchmark to distinguish true French truffles from their Chinese rivals. It will also be used to check that other products purporting to contain French truffles, such as preserves, cold meats and sausages, actually are what they claim to be.
PARIS A French research laboratory has unraveled the genetic code of the famed black truffles from the Perigord region, finally giving anti-fraud inspectors a tool to distinguish between the pricey French fungus and a Chinese competitor that looks identical but tastes insipid.
.
Since the French variety costs more than E300 a kilogram, or about $150 per pound, and the Chinese imports cost only E20, “there are clear temptations to pass one off as the other,” according to Michel Courvoisier, who heads a federation of truffle growers.
.
The golf-ball sized, earthy-odored delicacies grow around the roots of oak trees and are sniffed out by pigs or specially trained dogs.
.
Courvoisier agreed that it takes an expert to distinguish between the classic tuber melanosporum from the French southwest, and the Chinese tuber indicum. The smells are similar. The proof comes only with the eating.
.
A little of a pungent Perigord truffle goes a long way and leaves a lingering aftertaste that has made it one of the most sought-after ingredients of high cuisine since Marcus Gavius Apicius wrote the first known cook book in the first century.
.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin described truffles as the “diamond of cookery” in his Physiology of Taste, published in 1825. Some say they are aphrodisiacs, and Madame de Pompadour is said to have fed truffles to Louis XV to revive his flagging ardor.
.
President Jacques Chirac has kept up the traditional aristocratic taste for the black delicacy. The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoe, tried to get Chirac indicted for running up huge grocery bills – including bills for large amounts of foie gras and truffles – when he was running City Hall. A special judicial panel ruled last month that the president was immune from prosecution while in office, but lower ranking aides could still be in trouble.
.
The Chinese truffle carries no such historical or cultural associations. Along with cut-price frogs’ legs from Eastern Europe, it has been imported in increasing quantities since the mid 1990s. There is no official complaint about the imports so long as they are sold as what they are – a cheap fungus variety from Asia.
.
When sold, it even smells like its French cousin, but experts say the taste all but disappears in cooking. The trouble therefore begins when traders start passing them off as the produce of Perigord.
.
At the request of the consumer protection department of the French Finance Ministry, the National Institute of Agronomic Research developed a DNA test that will now be used as a benchmark to distinguish true French truffles from their Chinese rivals. It will also be used to check that other products purporting to contain French truffles, such as preserves, cold meats and sausages, actually are what they claim to be.
PARIS A French research laboratory has unraveled the genetic code of the famed black truffles from the Perigord region, finally giving anti-fraud inspectors a tool to distinguish between the pricey French fungus and a Chinese competitor that looks identical but tastes insipid.
.
Since the French variety costs more than E300 a kilogram, or about $150 per pound, and the Chinese imports cost only E20, “there are clear temptations to pass one off as the other,” according to Michel Courvoisier, who heads a federation of truffle growers.
.
The golf-ball sized, earthy-odored delicacies grow around the roots of oak trees and are sniffed out by pigs or specially trained dogs.
.
Courvoisier agreed that it takes an expert to distinguish between the classic tuber melanosporum from the French southwest, and the Chinese tuber indicum. The smells are similar. The proof comes only with the eating.
.
A little of a pungent Perigord truffle goes a long way and leaves a lingering aftertaste that has made it one of the most sought-after ingredients of high cuisine since Marcus Gavius Apicius wrote the first known cook book in the first century.
.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin described truffles as the “diamond of cookery” in his Physiology of Taste, published in 1825. Some say they are aphrodisiacs, and Madame de Pompadour is said to have fed truffles to Louis XV to revive his flagging ardor.
.
President Jacques Chirac has kept up the traditional aristocratic taste for the black delicacy. The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoe, tried to get Chirac indicted for running up huge grocery bills – including bills for large amounts of foie gras and truffles – when he was running City Hall. A special judicial panel ruled last month that the president was immune from prosecution while in office, but lower ranking aides could still be in trouble.
.
The Chinese truffle carries no such historical or cultural associations. Along with cut-price frogs’ legs from Eastern Europe, it has been imported in increasing quantities since the mid 1990s. There is no official complaint about the imports so long as they are sold as what they are – a cheap fungus variety from Asia.
.
When sold, it even smells like its French cousin, but experts say the taste all but disappears in cooking. The trouble therefore begins when traders start passing them off as the produce of Perigord.
.
At the request of the consumer protection department of the French Finance Ministry, the National Institute of Agronomic Research developed a DNA test that will now be used as a benchmark to distinguish true French truffles from their Chinese rivals. It will also be used to check that other products purporting to contain French truffles, such as preserves, cold meats and sausages, actually are what they claim to be.
< < Back to Start of Article
PARIS A French research laboratory has unraveled the genetic code of the famed black truffles from the Perigord region, finally giving anti-fraud inspectors a tool to distinguish between the pricey French fungus and a Chinese competitor that looks identical but tastes insipid.
.
Since the French variety costs more than E300 a kilogram, or about $150 per pound, and the Chinese imports cost only E20, “there are clear temptations to pass one off as the other,” according to Michel Courvoisier, who heads a federation of truffle growers.
.
The golf-ball sized, earthy-odored delicacies grow around the roots of oak trees and are sniffed out by pigs or specially trained dogs.
.
Courvoisier agreed that it takes an expert to distinguish between the classic tuber melanosporum from the French southwest, and the Chinese tuber indicum. The smells are similar. The proof comes only with the eating.
.
A little of a pungent Perigord truffle goes a long way and leaves a lingering aftertaste that has made it one of the most sought-after ingredients of high cuisine since Marcus Gavius Apicius wrote the first known cook book in the first century.
.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin described truffles as the “diamond of cookery” in his Physiology of Taste, published in 1825. Some say they are aphrodisiacs, and Madame de Pompadour is said to have fed truffles to Louis XV to revive his flagging ardor.
.
President Jacques Chirac has kept up the traditional aristocratic taste for the black delicacy. The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoe, tried to get Chirac indicted for running up huge grocery bills – including bills for large amounts of foie gras and truffles – when he was running City Hall. A special judicial panel ruled last month that the president was immune from prosecution while in office, but lower ranking aides could still be in trouble.
.
The Chinese truffle carries no such historical or cultural associations. Along with cut-price frogs’ legs from Eastern Europe, it has been imported in increasing quantities since the mid 1990s. There is no official complaint about the imports so long as they are sold as what they are – a cheap fungus variety from Asia.
.
When sold, it even smells like its French cousin, but experts say the taste all but disappears in cooking. The trouble therefore begins when traders start passing them off as the produce of Perigord.
.
At the request of the consumer protection department of the French Finance Ministry, the National Institute of Agronomic Research developed a DNA test that will now be used as a benchmark to distinguish true French truffles from their Chinese rivals. It will also be used to check that other products purporting to contain French truffles, such as preserves, cold meats and sausages, actually are what they claim to be.
PARIS A French research laboratory has unraveled the genetic code of the famed black truffles from the Perigord region, finally giving anti-fraud inspectors a tool to distinguish between the pricey French fungus and a Chinese competitor that looks identical but tastes insipid.
.
Since the French variety costs more than E300 a kilogram, or about $150 per pound, and the Chinese imports cost only E20, “there are clear temptations to pass one off as the other,” according to Michel Courvoisier, who heads a federation of truffle growers.
.
The golf-ball sized, earthy-odored delicacies grow around the roots of oak trees and are sniffed out by pigs or specially trained dogs.
.
Courvoisier agreed that it takes an expert to distinguish between the classic tuber melanosporum from the French southwest, and the Chinese tuber indicum. The smells are similar. The proof comes only with the eating.
.
A little of a pungent Perigord truffle goes a long way and leaves a lingering aftertaste that has made it one of the most sought-after ingredients of high cuisine since Marcus Gavius Apicius wrote the first known cook book in the first century.
.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin described truffles as the “diamond of cookery” in his Physiology of Taste, published in 1825. Some say they are aphrodisiacs, and Madame de Pompadour is said to have fed truffles to Louis XV to revive his flagging ardor.
.
President Jacques Chirac has kept up the traditional aristocratic taste for the black delicacy. The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoe, tried to get Chirac indicted for running up huge grocery bills – including bills for large amounts of foie gras and truffles – when he was running City Hall. A special judicial panel ruled last month that the president was immune from prosecution while in office, but lower ranking aides could still be in trouble.
.
The Chinese truffle carries no such historical or cultural associations. Along with cut-price frogs’ legs from Eastern Europe, it has been imported in increasing quantities since the mid 1990s. There is no official complaint about the imports so long as they are sold as what they are – a cheap fungus variety from Asia.
.
When sold, it even smells like its French cousin, but experts say the taste all but disappears in cooking. The trouble therefore begins when traders start passing them off as the produce of Perigord.
.
At the request of the consumer protection department of the French Finance Ministry, the National Institute of Agronomic Research developed a DNA test that will now be used as a benchmark to distinguish true French truffles from their Chinese rivals. It will also be used to check that other products purporting to contain French truffles, such as preserves, cold meats and sausages, actually are what they claim to be.
PARIS A French research laboratory has unraveled the genetic code of the famed black truffles from the Perigord region, finally giving anti-fraud inspectors a tool to distinguish between the pricey French fungus and a Chinese competitor that looks identical but tastes insipid.
.
Since the French variety costs more than E300 a kilogram, or about $150 per pound, and the Chinese imports cost only E20, “there are clear temptations to pass one off as the other,” according to Michel Courvoisier, who heads a federation of truffle growers.
.
The golf-ball sized, earthy-odored delicacies grow around the roots of oak trees and are sniffed out by pigs or specially trained dogs.
.
Courvoisier agreed that it takes an expert to distinguish between the classic tuber melanosporum from the French southwest, and the Chinese tuber indicum. The smells are similar. The proof comes only with the eating.
.
A little of a pungent Perigord truffle goes a long way and leaves a lingering aftertaste that has made it one of the most sought-after ingredients of high cuisine since Marcus Gavius Apicius wrote the first known cook book in the first century.
.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin described truffles as the “diamond of cookery” in his Physiology of Taste, published in 1825. Some say they are aphrodisiacs, and Madame de Pompadour is said to have fed truffles to Louis XV to revive his flagging ardor.
.
President Jacques Chirac has kept up the traditional aristocratic taste for the black delicacy. The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoe, tried to get Chirac indicted for running up huge grocery bills – including bills for large amounts of foie gras and truffles – when he was running City Hall. A special judicial panel ruled last month that the president was immune from prosecution while in office, but lower ranking aides could still be in trouble.
.
The Chinese truffle carries no such historical or cultural associations. Along with cut-price frogs’ legs from Eastern Europe, it has been imported in increasing quantities since the mid 1990s. There is no official complaint about the imports so long as they are sold as what they are – a cheap fungus variety from Asia.
.
When sold, it even smells like its French cousin, but experts say the taste all but disappears in cooking. The trouble therefore begins when traders start passing them off as the produce of Perigord.
.
At the request of the consumer protection department of the French Finance Ministry, the National Institute of Agronomic Research developed a DNA test that will now be used as a benchmark to distinguish true French truffles from their Chinese rivals. It will also be used to check that other products purporting to contain French truffles, such as preserves, cold meats and sausages, actually are what they claim to be.


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