I remember one time walking out of Hamra street, a once vibrant street in Beirut, during the last days of winter and seeing a vendor with styrofoam boxes overflowing with lump-like things held together with clear tape.
The first time I saw these sandy-stone-like produce I thought they were the world prized truffles with the amazing flavor and the unique aroma. I made risotto and shaved* some of those on top. I even buried one in a jar of short grain rice to fragrance it for risotto.
*shaved, more like crumbled it on the box grater’s slicer side only to get grains of sand later with every bite because I didn’t clean them well
Only later did I learn that these truffles are not the same thing.
These beautiful spores are called Desert Truffles. They are harvested not using dogs or pigs like western truffles but by roaming the desert landscapes (not desert dunes, but bare lands with rare vegetation) looking for bumps and cracks in the land. They dig their hands down and pull out the sand hoping there’s a something worthy in there.