Rocio Moliner Montserrat has a passion; the truffles. This young lady lives in Vistabella del Maestrat (Valencian Country, Southern Europe) and has finished her studies on forestry engineering at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, actually she works in many different projects for improve and reactivate the local economy of Vistabella and surrounding villages, a region affected by the unemployment and the rural abandonment. One of this projects tries to put on the global market their most delightful product, the black truffle, and her success speaks alone, the cooperative that she started few years ago is exporting this fungal treasure to lands as far as China.
Because I feel admiration for her entrepreneurial profile, and she is a great friend of mine, I’ve felt free to invite her for a little interview:
What represents the truffle for you?
Truffles for me are a passion to which I devote much of my time. Do you know this quote that says: “Make from your passion your work and you will never work”? I think it summarizes very briefly your question. I love the truffle in all its aspects: investigation, farming, picking… and of course I enjoy the gastronomy.
How did you get started to grow them?
Ufff! I don’t have an accurate picture! Since I was a little girl I have been closely linked to harvest them, every year I went with my parents to search for truffles in the forests surrounding my village. At that time I had not yet been established any truffle plantation and everything was picking wild. My parents say that when I was a child I told them that I knew I wanted to live in the forests, having a house besides the river, so I studied forestry and roughly into the half my career I started to learn about the truffles and then I started seriously growing them, and I liked it so much hence I continue. It is a very rewarding job.
What are you planning now?
So many!! But all lead to the same goal: contribute to sustainable rural development. I live in a small village and I am very happy with the lifestyle that the people have here, but each time that someone has to leave town to find work abroad… I’m disappointed! I think we should take advantage of forest resources rationally, rural populations could maintain themselves without the need to migrate to big cities, and I am convinced that this is the way for the future. The cultivation of truffles can do so much in this sense, although in many cases it can’t be the main activity of the farmer, it can provide a great economical support to combine with other activities.
Any recommendations for cooking with truffle?
Consider the truffle an spice, with a small amount you have enough for seasoning dishes. It is recommended for neutral taste meals, to enhance their flavor. My favorite recipe is as follows: fried egg with grated truffle, toasted bread with truffle oil and boiled Vistabella’s special potatos (“pataques“) touched with a dash of truffle oil and black truffle grated on. Delicious!