Kathy Straup, age 9, of Des Moines, Iowa, for her question:
WHAT EXACTLY ARE TRUFFLES?
If you like eating mushrooms, you would love the taste of truffles. These unusual vegetables belong to the fungus plant family. The largest part of a mushroom plant lives underground and looks like a mat of tangled threads. Now and then, it sprouts a batch of those chubby little umbrellas we call mushrooms. These carry the spore seedlets so that the breezes can blow them around.
The truffle plant also lives buried below, like a mass of tangled threads. But it never sprouts any part of itself above the ground.
Its mushroom type bumps grow somewhat like potatoes which makes them very hard to find. In France, England and other parts of Europe people go truffle hunting with dogs and pigs, who have extra sensitive noses. A small truffle is as big as an acorn, the biggest ones measure 12 inches. They taste so good that just a few slivers are enough to add a delicious flavor to all sorts of other foods