International Alba White Truffle Fair

The Moon, we must believe in it


The moon – said Nuto – we must believe in it. Try cutting down a pine at full moon, worms will eat it. You have to wash a vat when the moon is young. Even the grafts won’t stick if you don’t do them the first days of the moon. So I told him that I had heard lot of stories in my life, but the biggest were these ones. It was useless to find so much to say about the government and about the priests’ speeches if he believed these superstitions like his grandmother’s old ones. And it was then that Nuto, cool as hell, told me that superstition is only about what hurts you, and if he didn’t use the moon and the bonfires to rob the peasants and keep them in the dark, then he would be the fool one to be shot in the square.

The Moon and the bonfires – Cesare Pavese, 1950


In the collective peasant imagination, truffles are the products of the land that best represent what is close to nature.

The world of truffles is a natural world, which more than any other is based on precise rules related to ecology together with a human contribution based on unwritten laws, which knows no limitations in exploration.

The truffle-hunter searches and finds truffles thanks to his dog and during the chilly autumn nights he goes through time and prohibited spaces, integrating with nature. The Alba White Truffle hunting period in Piedmont imposes the opening of the season on 21st September and the closing on 31st January, but the circle of the annual agricultural time – which includes the awakening of nature, the beginning of the farming works and the harvesting – may vary according to the seasons and the lunar calendar and has solid roots in the history of agriculture. The truffle hunting is an indicative path made up of clues and conjectures. The truffle-hunter improves his senses and is ready to see every sign and natural circumstance, putting together the knowledge linked to space-time coordinates, the result of his own memory linked to the lunar calendar. In other words, the hunting is based on an organized set of traditional knowledge and a more complex search for natural clues, including the lunar phases, the relative influence of gravitational force and reflected light. The truffle-hunters wait for the new moon for a more fruitful hunting which is lit, in the cold late autumn nights, by the full moon. The truffle is a marker of the farming calendar and the annual peasant practice that is linked to the passing of the seasons, the moons and all the natural events. The intimate knowledge of the times and places of the truffle determines its properties more than the land does. The influence of the moon on the vegetative cycle of truffles is not scientifically verified, however, in the rich list of the little rationalizable events surrounding the Alba White Truffle, its role becomes an hypothesis because the “Moon: we must believe in it”.

Text by Centro Nazionale Studi Tartufo, suggested by Piercarlo Grimaldi

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