National Geographic : 1956 Sep
426 J. Baylor Roberts, National Geographic Staff "Ah, C'est Magnifique!" Washington, D. C., Diners Admire the Piece de Resistance Truffles were prized by the Greeks and Romans, but the plant's origin and manner of growth long puzzled scholars. Cicero thought them daughters of the earth conceived by the sun. Porphyrius considered them children of the gods. Plutarch asserted they were produced by the conjoined action of lightning, warmth, and water on the soil. Pliny called them nature's most wonderful creations. The ancients dedicated the black fungus to Venus, in the belief that it stimulated love. The legend still survives. Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 18th-century French gourmet, declared in The Physiology of Taste that truffles make women more tender and men more affectionate. Perhaps someday truffles will be as popular on American dining tables as they are in Europe. At its Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland, the United States Department of Agri culture is conducting experiments in truffle rais ing. Test beds, now five years old, are still not suffi ciently mature to indicate whether or not truffles can be domesticated successfully.