- Title: ITALY: MONGRELS SNIFF OUT TRUFFLES
- Date: 12th February 1997
- Summary: SCHEGGINO, ITALY (FEBRUARY 12, 1997) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 1. GV SCHEGGINO VALLEY UMBRIA (2 SHOTS) 0.12 2. SCU TRUFFLE HUNTER WALKING WITH DOGS 0.22 3. SLV DOG SNIFFING FOR TRUFFLES 0.25 4. SCU MAN WATCHES 0.27 5. SVL DOG FINDS TRUFFLE 0.40 6. SCU TRUFFLE HUNTER HELPS UNEARTH THE TRUFFLE 0.45 7. SCU DOG DIGS FOR TRUFFLE/HUNTER TAKES TRUFFLE OUT OF DOG'S MOUTH/GIVES DOG TREAT 1.07 8. SLV INTERIOR OF TRUFFLE BARON'S PAOLO AND CARLO URBANI TRUFFLE FACTORY / TRUFFLE SELLER DELIVERS SACK OF TRUFFLES (2 SHOTS) 1.13 9. SLV TRUFFLES BEING WEIGHED/POURED INTO BASKET (3 SHOTS) 1.38 10. SLV FACTORY WORKER PAYING TRUFFLE SELLER (4 SHOTS) 2.06 11. HAS/SCU WORKERS PREPARING DIFFERENT TRUFFLE PRODUCTS (3 SHOTS) 2.14 12. SCU PAOLO URBANI'S DAUGHTER, OLGA URBANI SAYING "THE PRICE CAN GO FROM MINIMUM TWO MILLION LIRE PER KILO, MAXIMUM FIVE" (ENGLISH) 2.21 13. SV WORKERS PACKING TRUFFLES 2.23 14. SCU OLGA URBANI SAYING "IT IS VERY CHEAP BECAUSE YOU DON'T NEED A KILO OF WHITE TRUFFLES. IF YOU WANT TO COOK A DISH OF PASTA WITH WHITE TRUFFLES YOU ONLY NEED 10 OR 15 GRAMS, THAT IS MUCH LESS, SO YOU CAN SPEND MAXIMUM 100,000 LIRE" (ENGLISH) 2.40 15. SV/SCU WORKER PUTTING LABELS ONTO TRUFFLE JARS 2.46 16. SV OLGA URABNI DISCUSSING BUSINESS WITH HER FATHER PAOLO URBANI IN HIS OFFICE (3 SHOTS) 3.03 17. SLV/SCU SHELVES WITH TRUFFLE PRODUCTS (3 SHOTS) 3.19 Initials s3 p3 Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Reuters ID: LVACJHBAZ0YDVWYMSKMZVVBFMZ0R
- Location: SCHEGGINO, ITALY
- Country: Italy
- Duration: 00:03:18
- Story Text: - INTRO: The fortunes of Italy's truffle barons rest almost entirely on the skills of mongrels who sniff out the much coveted and expensive delicacies.
A dog scratches excitedly at the frosty ground. Her owner rewards her with a cube of ham for sniffing out another truffle.
The skills of that mongrel in finding the pungent fungi that grow mysteriously underground will affect the fortunes of Paolo and Carlo Urbani, Italy's undisputed truffle barons.
From their small base in central Italy, the Urbani family run a multi-million dollar business dynasty seeking steady profits from one of nature's most unpredictable and expensive products.
Truffles, hunted in Europe with passion, grow underground near the roots of certain oak and hazelnut trees.
What makes them grow where they do is one of nature's enduring mysteries. Most experts say it depends on a mixture of rain, calcium content, soil temperature and pH levels.
According to the Italian financial weekly Il Mondo, the Urbani Truffles Group has an annual turnover of some 65 billion lire ($40 million) and in 1995 controlled about 70 percent of the world truffle market.
They can turn out 200 tonnes of truffles and manufactured truffles products a year.
There are basically four types of truffles. The white, or "Tuber Magnatum Pico", is considered the king of the crop. The black "tuber melanosporum vitt" looks like a lump of coal with pimples but it is revered in the trade as a "black diamond".
Walk into the Urbani truffles plant, take a deep breath, and you enter a gastronome's vision of paradise.
Basket after wicker basket is overflowing with the fungi that Alexandre Dumas called "the gastronome's holy of holies". The sweet aroma of damp earth clings to each one.
The company employs just 100 people at several plants in Umbria. Buyers are paid on commission.
The price paid to hunters, known as "cavatori" (extractors), can reach as much as 2.5 million lire ($1,540) a kilogram (2.2lb) for white truffles when supply is low. The company can make a 50 percent mark-up when they re-sell fresh truffles.
Paolo's daughter Olga, who honed her business skills at New York's Columbia University, is the heir apparent in the business dynasty started by her grandfather at the turn of the century.
She considers the price of truffles, however, to be relatively cheap.
"You don't need a kilo of white truffles. If you want to cook a dish of pasta with white truffles you only need 10 or 15 grams.
that is much less, so you can spend maximum 100,000 lire," she said.
If you order a fresh truffle dish at a fancy restaurant in London, New York or Los Angeles, the chances are the fungi tickling your tastebuds once passed through the Urbani plants.
Urbani truffles or truffle-based goods are found at the most exclusive gourmet shops -- including the Urbani Truffles Boutique at the Trump Tower on New York's Fifth Avenue.
Dealers for the company buy truffles unearthed in Italy, Spain and France and send them to the Urbani plants, where managers decide whether to re-sell them fresh or use them in processed food products.
Some are flown fresh to New York or Los Angeles the day after they are unearthed and sent to up-market restaurants.
Most are either flash frozen, canned or jarred or used as the base for truffle creams, sauces, butter, flour, pate, or truffle-flavoured olive oil, pasta and cheese.
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