For those of you who recognized it, this is indeed a desert truffle or kema. In Lebanon, these are brought over from Syria. Lina Hamdan, board member of the Lebanese Association of Gastronomy was telling me that these erupt after a storm and lots of lightning. The desert floor cracks and the truffles pop up and are quickly snatched up by the Bedouin women who live nearby. At a grocery store in Beirut these can fetch L.L. 60,000 a kilo (about $22 a pound).
When I asked the greengrocer if I could use them for an omelette, he gave a look of disdain “eggs? you want to use eggs with these? MEAT, that’s what these are for”.
Lebanese foodies buy them while they’re in season in bulk (20 pound sacks); they get peeled and blanched and stored in the freezer in small bags and can last the rest of the year. Their season is very short.
In the US I found cans of these at the Middle-Eastern store but I thought they tasted bland.
It would be a thrill to spend a few days in the desert and forage them with the Bedouins don’t you agree?
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