Every year a handful of remarkable white truffles are found that cause a lot of fuss. Most truffle hunters will feel very lucky to find a truffle weighing over 200 grams, here we are talking about truffles around the kilo mark. These are the real prizes in the world of truffles, where the big money is so naturally all hunters dream of finding buried treasure in the form of a super-size white truffle.
Beautifully coloured, perfectly shaped truffles are all well and good but it is only really size that counts. As the ultimate status symbol a massive truffle is usually not sold through the conventional channels. These mighty truffles often become a news story and then are either sold at auction or given as a gift to a famous person. Through this subtle promotion stunt the white truffle and glamorous celebrity have become indelibly linked in the mind of the public.
Before we look back at some of the record-breaking truffles that have been found over the last 65 years we need to get some perspective with these nice but very average truffles.
Now please feast your eyes on this.
Truffle fans should know this by now: No good white truffle story is complete without the Godfather of the Alba Truffle, Giacomo Morra. Here is the marketing genius back in 1954 with a monstrous truffle which is reported as being 2.250 kilos. This truffle was sent off to Harry S. Truman no doubt to enjoy over his favourite chicken and dumplings.
The following decade, this morose-looking fellow stumbled across a massive truffle. Unfortunately, white truffles cost a fraction of what they do nowadays, so truffle hunter Gennaro Vicentini was not about to get himself over excited. There is no report of what happened to the truffle but we do know a little about Gennaro. He had been taught the art of truffle hunting by his father Sante (1874 – 1958). Gennaro then passed on the knowledge to his son Mario whose son Alfredo became one of the founding members of the Truffle Academy of the Po Delta.
A few years previous to the exciting Po Delta discovery, this enormous beast had been found. The truffle made headlines by fetching the massive sum of 65,000 lira.
The exchange rate was $1 to 625 lira meaning that this whopping truffle was sold for the not so princely sum of $104. This would be worth around $847 in 2019 which is perhaps why Mr. Vicentini doesn’t look especially enthralled with his enormous truffle.
It seems that no one was willing to try and top Gennaro’s picture with his 1,650 gram truffle judging by the scant images from the decades which followed. Until in November 1999 that is, when this glorious beast was recorded. Mr. Giancarlo Zigante from Livade, Croatia is the man looking vaguely pleased with himself. Here we see him posing with a 1.31 kg.truffle which he and his dog Diana found in the Motovun forest near Livade. Giancarlo made sure his find was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest white truffle ever found (and recorded) in the world.
The record-holding truffle was christened Millennium and could have sold for a phenomenal price at auction. Instead the truffle ended up as the main ingredient in a fine dinner hosted by Zigante for one hundred special guests. The event attracted much media attention and thus began the promotion of Istrian truffles. Livade established itself as the truffle capital of Croatia and to make it official the Millennium truffle was cast in bronze.
Zigante established himself as a businessman, he owns a restaurant, truffle processing plant and a hotel. The bronze truffle replica is exhibited in Giancarlo Zigante’s specialized shop in Livade.
Here he is now.