Not long after he first opened his shop doors, Michele rocketed to prominence across the world, thanks to two fungi. Porcini mushrooms, and truffles. Stocked aplenty in his shop, he began specialising in these delicacies in the 50s as demand for them grew and grew. Of course, he was perfectly positioned for this. Literally. Both could be found abundantly scattered across the surrounding woodlands of Busca, where his shop was situated. And that abundance meant he could be a bit picky. If there were so many mushrooms to choose from, he could afford to pick only the absolute best.
It wasn’t until the 1960s, and Michele’s sons Clemente and Giovanni, that the family began exploring just what these mushrooms could do. From combining it with other local produce, to infusing the mushroom in oils. All strictly following truly ancient traditions, with a distinctly modern twist. Building on his father’s success, Clemente realised they needed a space to continue their preparation and preservation of the local produce. Demand continued to grow, so in 1971 they opened a small factory in Borgo San Dalmazzo where they began work on an even wider range of local products. Everything from creams and sauces to antipasti and seasonings. All, of course, with the all-important porcini and truffles remaining centre stage. Today, the business remains in the Inaudi family, run by Clemente and his two sons Emiliano and Davide.
But what exactly makes these fungi so special? Well, truffles – ‘or vegetable diamonds’ – are one of the world’s most mysterious mushrooms. They grow underground on the roots of certain tree species. Which unfortunately makes them very difficult to farm. That means they often have to be collected from the wild by a trifolau and highly trained dogs. White truffles are rarer than black truffles, and are revered according, but both have a powerful, rich taste that strengthens almost any dish. Porcini aren’t so difficult to find, but they are prized for their earthy, nutty flavour. Think a typical mushroom flavour, just much deeper. In Piedmont, these mushrooms typically grow in the valleys and mountains between April and November – the best will grow in the soft Autumn rains before the wind and frosts set in. Their life-span is short, so most are harvested and preserved whole to enjoy all year round!