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Sorry, There Are No Truffles in Your Truffle Oil

It's time to blow the lid off this farce
Truffles
Photo: Tasting Table

Some truths in life are hard to swallow: Your spices don’t last forever, you’re probably storing your coffee all wrong and there’s actually a really useful purpose for that hole in your pasta spoon, which you should be taking advantage of (no, it’s not for draining water). Here’s another startling truth you probably don’t want to confront:

There are no truffles in your precious truffle oil.

As Priceonomics puts it, “Truffle oil has been a remarkably successful con.”

Originally, truffle oil was high-quality olive oil infused with black or white truffles, but today, most of the stuff is made synthetically with ingredients like 2,4-dithiapentane, an aromatic molecule that gives truffles their distinctive smell. Some people love the oil, but a lot of chefs despise it.

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“One of the most pungent, ridiculous ingredients ever known to chef,” Gordon Ramsay once told a competitor on MasterChef.

Reaching for the oil is "a sure sign of someone who doesn't know what they're doing," Joe Bastianich said in the same episode.

“Fake truffle flavoring is one of those things that's especially upsetting, because not only does it taste like a bad chemical version of the real thing, it's the flavor that almost everyone now associates with truffles,” Jonathan Gold says.

Still, chefs use it as a way to project quality onto their plates, and diners eat it up, whether they’re aware or not that it’s all just a ruse.

If you’re already privy to this blasphemy and simply choose to ignore it as you pay a nice little premium on certain side dishes, amen. If this is news to you, we are sorry that you may never look at your truffle fries the same way again.

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