Mystery Thing (Solved–see Update)

  • What the heck?

    What the heck?

  • Best when sliced thin.

    Best when sliced thin.

  • Interesting texture.

    Interesting texture.

  • Lightly fried in olive oil.

    Lightly fried in olive oil.

  • They're good with scrambled eggs.

    They’re good with scrambled eggs.

Do you know what these are? I mean, aside from delicious? Be the first to name this mystery food and win a free 8×12 print of your choosing. The answer must be the full name in Spanish or English (or latin, if you want to show off). Leave your guess in the comments section below. Good luck! Photos ©Mike Randolph

UPDATE  We have a winner, EnriqueB, author of the Spanish food blog www.dorarnosella.com. They are criadillas de tierra. That is how they are known in Extremadura, where they are most common in Spain, but they are also known as turmas in Murcia and papas crías or criadas in the Canary Islands. In English they are most commonly called desert truffles. They are related to the white truffle, though I bought mine for 12 Euros a kilo whereas white truffles are a tad more expensive–3,000 Euros a kilo. They grow in arid, sandy soils in Spain as well as parts of North Africa and the Middle East. Fungi expert Antonio Rodríguez has an excellent post on them here.

While not nearly as aromatic as white or even black truffles, they do have a wonderful mushroomy, earthy, hard-to-define taste. Some people slice them thin and use them in place of potatoes in a tortilla. But most people prefer them with scrambled eggs. They are moist, but dense, and fried in olive oil they are quite lovely. March and April is the season for fresh desert truffles, though they are also sold in jars, minus their soil-covered skin. As Julvic noted in the comments, they don’t look very appetizing. Last fun fact: Criadillas means calf’s testicles, so the rough translation for desert truffle in Spanish is calf’s testicles of the earth.

Thanks to all who participated.

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16 Responses to Mystery Thing (Solved–see Update)

  1. Julvic March 28, 2013 at 11:36 #

    Is that ugly thing really delicious?

    • Mike Randolph March 28, 2013 at 11:48 #

      It is indeed delicious! On twitter people have guessed some kind of potato…cold, cold, cold. But they do grow underground…

  2. Julvic March 28, 2013 at 11:45 #

    Oops! I means to give it a try with the guess. Is it some type of water chestnut?

  3. Julvic March 28, 2013 at 11:52 #

    Jerusalem artichoke?

    • Mike Randolph March 28, 2013 at 11:56 #

      Negative, guess again…

      • Julvic March 28, 2013 at 12:05 #

        I’ve been looking in my cookbooks. Is it taro.? If not I give up. I am passing the challenge to my friends and colleagues. Do I still get the print?…I’ll share it with them on my wall. Ha,ha,ha

  4. Chris Basler March 28, 2013 at 12:18 #

    Is it a black perigord truffle?

  5. EnriqueB March 28, 2013 at 12:42 #

    ¿Criadillas de tierra?

    • Mike Randolph March 28, 2013 at 13:11 #

      Si señor! Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner! Not surprisingly, it’s EnriqueB, who is a food and cooking wizard. Enrique’s blog http://dorarnosella.com is one of the best food blogs in Spain, what you might call a food blogger’s food blog. He takes a meticulous, scientific approach to recipes and along the way, dispels many popular cooking myths. Did you know that searing meat does NOT, in fact, seal in the juices? His first post dealt with this old canard and became the title of his blog. Check it out here at http://dorarnosella.com/2011/11/27/dorar-nosella-los-jugos . (In Spanish.)

      Thanks for chiming in, Enrique. And for those who are still stumped, check back soon for more information on criadillas de tierra…

  6. Jonathan Moreno March 28, 2013 at 18:28 #

    Awesome post! That was fun and interesting. Who says learning isn’t fun? Thanks Mike.

    • Mike Randolph March 28, 2013 at 19:43 #

      Glad you enjoyed it! Too bad you weren’t here to try some.

  7. Sarita March 28, 2013 at 18:58 #

    Great competition Mike, got here late and would have said truffles but wouldn’t have been able to finetune the exact type! Thank you by the way for the print from the Madrid competition which arrived intact, and is now waiting to be framed! I love the picture, not sure what colour frame and mount to use though… Thank you again.

    • Mike Randolph March 28, 2013 at 19:50 #

      I’m delighted to hear it got there intact–by the time it got to me, it looked like it had had a rough trip! My two cents on the frame: can’t go wrong with black, but that’s up to you. Glad you like it and thanks again for your astute eye on Spanish cities.

      For the record, Sarita chose this print. http://www.randolphimages.com/buy/10373178_GvczZP/717387245_fQL9jkv/
      When Don Enrique choses his, I’ll post which one he picked…

  8. Julvic March 29, 2013 at 23:33 #

    A litle late I had three more guesses, one was truffles, then small yuca and something else called eddo…something
    All wrong! But I sure learned about vegetables trying to get my prize…oh, well, nex time I hope.
    Congratulations to Enrique, I cant wait to look into his blog. Thanks mike

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