Despite being of Italian descent and learning a fair deal about the country, I’ve never been there before. I’ve never tasted a truffle either. Having seen The Truffle Hunters, both have climbed to the top of my bucket list. Before watching this delightful documentary, my knowledge of truffle hunting extended to episodes of Bob’s Burgers, The Looney Tunes Show, and The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. The Truffle Hunters is easily the most thorough and informative film on the subject. Yet, much about truffle hunting remains clouded in mystery.
There are a few reasons why truffle hunting isn’t a mainstream activity. Truffles are a delicacy, the rarest and most coveted of which is the white Alba truffle. Tracking truffles down is like searching for buried treasure. Once a hunter finds a sweet spot, they won’t share it with just anybody. The directors of The Truffle Hunters, Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, spent a fair amount of time gaining the trust of their subjects. Even then, they didn’t give away their most sacred secrets. There’s a scene where the filmmakers attempt to persuade an aging truffle hunter to pass down his experience to another generation. He’s ready to die with his lips sealed, however.
While the film doesn’t reveal where specifically to find truffles, it is an eye-opening look at how these hunters live. Piedmont, Italy is untouched by time. The hunters aren’t surrounded by smartphones, tablets, or internet. It’s a place that runs on simple charms, and the same can be said about The Truffle Hunters. Once the film is over, the audience will feel as if they’ve just returned from a peaceful vacation. You’ll quickly come to miss Piedmont, as well the friends you picked up along the way. You’ll especially miss their adorable dogs, who are the best truffle hunters of all.
As inspiring as The Truffle Hunters may be, the film isn’t without a melancholy sentiment. The hunters are in their seventy or eighties, although they have the spirit of men in their thirties. They love what they do and have no intention of slowing down. If the past year has taught us anything, though, it’s that even the eternally youthful at heart can be taken from us in a flash. The Truffle Hunters was completed before COVID-19 emerged and few countries got hit worse than Italy. The film will make you miss the in-person interactions above all else. It also serves as a reminder to appreciate the little things in life, as you never how much longer they’ll be around.
Likewise, truffles are something of an endangered delicacy. Due to climate change, deforestation, and invasive species, they have never been harder to locate. One November, truffle season may come with no truffles to hunt. Time will only tell if truffles will endure, but it isn’t too late to stop and smell the fungus. The Truffle Hunters is best experienced over a home-cooked meal with a glass of wine and a loyal canine by your side.