Edible gold is one of the most luxurious items you’ll find in the kitchens of the most expensive restaurants and in the cocktail cabinets of the best rooftop bars in the world. It definitely makes any food look more luxurious – after all, gold has always been the symbol of wealth and riches – but it’s by far not the most expensive food ingredient you can use (especially not at the quantities routinely used in kitchens). There are, in turn, food ingredients that are worth their weight in gold – literally. Here are some of the most expensive ones today.
Wagyu beef is considered the holy grail of meat. It comes from specific beef cattle – Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn only – that are fed a special diet and raised under very special conditions for their meat to be as tender and juicy as possible. True Wagyu comes from a handful of areas in Japan, and it can cost anywhere between $1,200 and $3,000.
Caviar has always been considered a decadent and luxurious dish – and one that is often falsified. Traditionally, caviar referred to the roe from wild sturgeon in the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea but nowadays, it is a term also used for roe of fish like salmon. The rarest and most expensive caviar comes from the endangered beluga sturgeon only living in the Caspian Sea, and it’s best enjoyed fresh (not pasteurized), and it costs between $7,000 to $10,000 per kg.
Saffron is said to be more expensive than gold – and this was literally true for centuries. Cultivating it is a very tedious and labor-intensive task: the spice itself is the dried stamen of the crocus plant that has to be harvested manually, and each plant has just three of these. To produce one pound of dried saffron, one needs a field the size of a football field. Depending on the variety and the country of origin, the retail price of saffron can be anywhere between $2,000 and $20,000 per kilogram.
The Yubari King is a hybrid of two types of cantaloupes, cultivated in greenhouses in, Yubari, a small Japanese city near Hokkaido. It is a top-grade melon with a perfectly round shape, an exceptionally smooth rind, and a very expensive one – a pair of Yubari melons were sold at an auction in 2008 for 3 million yen or around $27,000.
A pale white tuber living underground may not seem like much for most – but if it’s a white truffle native to Piedmont, a small area of Italy, it is a thing of luxury – and pretty expensive. In December 2014, a 4.16 pound (1.89 kg) white truffle found in Umbria, Italy, was sold at an auction at the Sotheby’s in New York for $61,000 to a Taiwanese buyer – and it was considered very cheap at the time.