Black Truffles Have Been Found In Portugal

Written By Manuel Poças

After almost four years of searching, the Nepalese Chef, Tanka Sapkota, finally found what he was looking for: summer black truffles.

His quest started three summers ago after he was nominated Knight of the Order of Truffles and Wine of Alba. Since then, Tanka has been trying to fulfill his dream of finding the highly prized ingredient on Portuguese land.

After partnering with specialists from the University of Évora and searching from north to south, in sun and in rain, without finding anything, the Chef finally struck truffle gold. Less than a month ago, he received a kilogram of black truffle in one of his restaurants that had allegedly been found in the outskirts of Lisbon. Even though he was suspicious at first, the tests confirmed that it was, indeed, black truffle, and that it was better than the one he had just imported from Italy.

Knowing that, in the right conditions, the fungus manifests itself, he went on searching again – this time, near Alenquer and Sobral de Monte Agraço, in the periphery of Lisbon. With the help of two investigators and a tracking dog, he was finally able to find what he had been looking for.

Tanka loves truffles and finding them in Portugal had been one of his dreams. However, when he first tried the product, he was not a big fan of the taste or the price. He could not understand how someone would pay so much for so little.

However, in 2007, with a more mature palate and the dream of democratizing access to this rare ingredient, he went to Alba, in Italy, to live and hunt with a truffle hunter for two weeks. It was a total immersion that nurtured the relationship between the Chef and the product even more.

Now, years later, leveraging what he learned then, through wild land dug by wild boars, he was able to find and dig up black truffles growing near old trees. For those that said it was not possible, it actually is. Portugal does, indeed, have black summer truffles.

Tanka’s work was, and is, a pioneering work in Portugal. This was the first time, at least the first time we know of, that the ingredient was found and that its discovery was made public. According to the Chef, one kilogram of black summer truffle costs between 100 and 120 euros. Given the quality of its findings, he believes that, if more is found, in enough quantities and locations, Portugal can stop importing the product, and maybe even start exporting it.

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