One of the latest news that has been all over the press in Umbria, my home region, is that Oprah was hunting truffles. Where? Well.. in Umbria!
Back in August she already mentioned on the red carpet her plans to go for truffle hunting: “I’m a truffle fiend! I walk around with truffle salt. That’s on my rider whenever I arrive at a hotel: truffle salt, truffle oil”, “I want to go do the truffle hunt with the pigs in October. Yeah!”
Oprah eventually revealed the location for the truffle hunting when she answered to a fan’s question: “Every summer I’ve planned this and never did it,” she said. “On the way to South Africa this time, I’m stopping in Italy and I’m going on a truffle hunt with the pigs and the dogs. That has been on my list for a long time. This year, finally, I’m going to do that!”
Once in Italy, she shared the exact location and the pictures of her italian adventure – “Let the hunt begin! Truffle hunting in Umbria. # Bucketlist”. And she posted some pictures of herself with local umbrian truffle-hunters (“tartufai” in the local language) in the woods, with dogs, sticks, wellies and all the rest that is needed for such a rural hunt.
Local and international newspapers reported Oprah had been hosted in the village of Montecastrilli (southern part of Umbria) by an entrepreneur that deals with truffle commerce. She also visited the beautiful towns of Perugia (medioeval town built on etruscan ruins aged B.C.), Assisi (where S. Francis was born) and Todi (voted most livable city in the World in 1991). She also visited the peculiar town of Orvieto, built on a steep volcanic-tuff relief, where she had the chance to taste typical umbrian truffle dished cooked by Chefs Francesco Abbatepaolo and Enzo Barbetti.
Oprah is not the only celebrity in love with this precious black gold that could cost up to $250 per gram! Back in 1999 an italian newspaper published a list of “truffle addict” celebrities that included Michael Douglas, Cindy Crawford, John Travolta, Mariah Carey, Richard Gere and, obviously, Oprah Winfrey.
What amazes me most of this whole Oprah adventure, is that one of the most famous and richest woman in the whole world has been having for years the desire to go truffle hunting and with all the locations in the world she could had chosen…she picked Umbria, my home region. And that her most favorite thing is truffles, a product my truffle-hunter neighbors used to (and still) bring to my family as sign of friendship and that I was used to eat often. And that she decided to spend few days in my own region, a region where I spent 30 years of my life during which, for most of the time, I didn’t really appreciate the astonishing beauty I was surrounded by. Beauty that now I can only occasionally, eagerly taste when I leave the “british” island to fly back to my homeland for few days.
If you think about it, the combination of the glamorous Oprah and an umbrian truffle hunter sounds quite awkward. But then you look at that picture she posted and actually everything looks pretty normal: like a bunch of friends just enjoying a sunny day and looking for truffles with their dogs. What is that washed away the awkwardness? The shared passion and common search for one same thing. In this specific case, truffles.
But more in general, either you are a rich lawyer from new york or an umbrian housewife, you still crave for the same thing: beauty. For your own life, you want beauty. You look for beauty. You would give everything for some beauty. Beauty. That Beauty hidden within and behind the things. Beauty that fascinates you, astonishes you, satisfies your palate, delights your eyes and that, most importantly, fills your heart.
And Umbria is full of beauty that overwhelms me every time I visit this region. If you live there, you are lucky! Take a moment and realise how lucky you are and enjoy this beautiful place where you live; not just cause Oprah thinks so, but cause the history and landscapes and flavors and people there are truly wonderful. If you don’t live there, then try to visit it. You will not regret it. You will be impress by the authenticity of this area, still quite unknown by foreigner tourists. I said “still”, as I presume lots of americans are already checking flights to Umbria after Oprah’s tweets! We will see…
In the meantime…it’s getting late. I am hungry! I am going to cook some pasta. Just olive oil and a tiny bit of anchovy to enhance the flavor of… fresh truffle, of course, that my mom brought me last week from Umbria when she came to visit. Ahhh… thanks mom.