WHILE most children his age were enjoying play equipment when they were outdoors, Federico Paci was digging for truffles.
With a passion for mushrooms and truffles that started when he was three, Mr Paci went on to study natural science and has a Masters in Mycology from the University of Florence.
Now lending his expertise to the Great Southern Truffle Company in Mt Hawthorn, Mr Paci said the variety of cultures in Australia made people open to experiencing new flavours such as truffles.
“Truffle is more of a nose experience than a taste experience,” Mr Paci said.
“You need a food that extracts the flavour.”
Truffles, a distinctive-smelling fungus that grows in woodlands in winter, are considered a culinary delicacy.
Mr Paci said truffle butter and olive oil were the most popular products in the off-season, but fresh truffles were preferable from June to August.
“When I came here four years ago, 90 per cent of people were asking what a truffle was and now about 2 per cent of people ask,” he said.
“Truffle knowledge has exploded in four years.”
Mr Paci said chefs had approached the company wanting to incorporate the unique flavour into Asian and Indian dishes.
“Truffle is usually matched with salty things but because Australia is so experimental, they’re finding it matches with sweet things like ice cream, honey and cakes,” he said.
The Great Southern Truffle Company will have stalls at the Mt Hawthorn Street and Laneway Festival on Sunday, May 1.
The event, sponsored by Guardian Express, will include stalls, live music, street food, pop up bars and roving performers from 11am-5pm.