It’s not really important why people want to eat food that costs a fortune, or whether it really does taste better than the food us ordinary mortals eat on a daily basis. The fact is that some people are willing to spend more on one meal (or a part of it) than most of us spend on eating for the entire month. Here, on a digital platter, are 12 of the most expensive foods of the world. Imagine you are there, munching away, and if you want to, just eat your heart out!
#12 Lambda Olive Oil
Olive oil can be quite pricey, but this particular olive oil is outrageously expensive, currently selling online from Harrods for £50.00 ($77.30) plus delivery. Produced by Speiron, a Greek company founded by entrepreneur Giorgos Kolliopoulos in 2007, it has been dubbed the world’s first luxury olive oil. This award-winning, intensely fruity, ultra premium extra virgin olive oil is decanted into 500 ml glass bottles that make it look like ultra-expensive perfume. The bottle is then packaged in a handcrafted gift box. Launched in 2010, the Bespoke Lambda is the world’s first personalized olive oil, and the most expensive globally. According to Guinness World Records, a bottle of Lambda olive oil was included in the most expensive Christmas hamper in December 2014.
#11 Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
Known as Modena’s black gold, Aceto Balsimico Tradizionale (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar) is completely different to regular balsamic vinegar which though generally a little more expensive than most other types of vinegar, is relatively inexpensive. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is made from cooked late-harvest white Trebbiano grapes grown in the hills of Modena, in Italy. The vinegar is then aged for at least 12 years – a lot longer than your average bottle of Italian wine. It takes extremely large volumes of grapes to make this vinegar, which is one of the reasons it is so expensive. You can buy a 100 ml bottle of 12-year-old Traditional Balsamic Vinegar online for $100; a 25-year-old bottle the same size will set you back $180 to $190.
#10 Civet Coffee
Civit coffee (or more accurately Kopi Luwak) is a highly unlikely type of coffee that is made from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of a civet – a nocturnal creature in the cat family. This happens quite naturally, and then the cats excrete the beans in their dung. The result is a coffee bean that has been fermented in the animal’s stomach, and is smoother and less bitter than many other types of coffee. Selling for around $500 for a lb (or half a kg), it’s becoming more of an industry in some parts of Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia where civets are, unfortunately, being caged and force-fed coffee beans for production.
#9 Yubari King Melons
They might look like cantaloupes or sweet orange-colored melons, but these fleshy orange Yubari King Melons are larger and considerably sweeter than your average cantaloupe. A hybrid grown in greenhouses in a part of Japan, the melons are perfectly formed: round, and with an especially smooth rind. They are traditionally presented for sale with just a little of the stem left at the top of the melon. Definitely not something you’re going to find in your local supermarket – even if you do live in Japan – Yubari King Melons are normally sold in perfectly matched pairs, at auction. The top price they are known to have attracted was a bid of close to $23,000 in 2008, from a local businessman who owns a seafood restaurant and souvenir shop. Run-of-the-mill Yubari melons are sold in shops, for about $50 to $100 each.
#8 Densuke Black Watermelon
While these Japanese beauties don’t look too different when they have been cut into pieces, they demand a price that no ordinary watermelon could ever get. Grown on the island of Hokkaido in Japan, the harvest is normally relatively small in comparison to normal run-of-the-field watermelons, and they are considerably harder and much crisper than any other variety. They are also said to be sweeter than any other watermelon on the planet. The known record for the sale of a Densuke Black watermelon is $6,100 for a fruit that weighed 17 lbs (about 7,7 kg).
#7 A Bagel
Okay this isn’t just any bagel – it’s a thousand dollar bagel and not what you would find just anywhere. Created by Frank Tujague, executive chef of the Westlin Hotel in New York, it’s made our top 12 most expensive foods of the world list because it is simply outrageous. The most expensive ingredient is the white truffle (see our #3) cream cheese that is teamed with an intriguing goji berry-infused Riesling (as in white wine) jelly. Goji berries aren’t cheap and depending on the Riesling used, these two ingredients will keep the price rising. And then there is a touch of gold leaf (see #1) for effect. At $1,000 would you rather have a regular bagel perhaps?
The second-most expensive spice available (after our #1, saffron), vanilla is a favorite flavoring for food. Extracted from the pod of an orchid, vanilla has been cultivated for its seeds and extract since the 15th century. Until the mid-19th century the main producer was Mexico; but now Madagascar, the Comores Islands and Reunion produce about 80 percent of the world’s produce. Indonesia is producing an increasing quantity. Vanilla essence is not true vanilla, but is flavored artificially with a synthetic compound, vanillin. With reports that the quantity of vanilla out of Madagascar will drop in 2015, prices can only rise higher. Right now, with about 110 vanilla beans (or pods) in a pound or half a kg, you can expect to pay around $100 for this quantity and around $14 for just 10 beans.
Not to be eaten on its own, saffron is an incredibly expensive flavoring (and dye) that comes from the fine, delicate stamens of the crocus flower. Indigenous to Southwest Asia and Greece, it is now propagated in other parts of the world, including Africa and North America, but with only three stamens (or threads) per flower, harvesting it is laborious, and so it remains the most costly seasoning in the world. Traded and used for at least four centuries, saffron is said to cost even more than gold. You’re unlikely to find a gram for less than about $120.
#4 Matsutake Mushrooms
The most expensive mushrooms in the world, matsutake or mattake mushrooms are found in several parts of the world including Europe, Asia, and North America. Prized by the Chinese and Japanese, it is also known as the pine mushroom, because it is found in coniferous forests, usually hidden beneath pine needles. Incredibly hard to find, price is dependent on origin, quality and availability, and it can cost anything from $90 to $2,000 for a single kilogram.
#3 White Truffles
Anyone who understands the truffle market will know how expensive these rather unattractive lumps of fungus can be. They are incredibly difficult to find since they grow wild and are normally tracked by specially trained pigs and dogs. So far no one has succeeded in cultivating them. Rich and earthy to taste, with a slightly musky, horseradish-like, garlicky taste, they sell by weight – generally around $6,000 to $10,000 per lb (about half a kg). One of the most expensive white truffles was a huge white alba truffle that weighed around 1.5 kg and was bought by a wealthy man from Hong Kong for more than $160,000.
Known as black gold, Almas Beluga caviar from Iran is produced from the eggs of a very rare albino sturgeon fish that is said to be anything from 60 and 100 years old, and found only in the Caspian Sea. Recorded as the world’s most expensive caviar by Guinness World Records, the eggs are larger than average caviar, and much tastier. Rare white Beluga caviar also comes from Iran and has been known to sell for as much as $25,000 a kilo, though this was packaged in a 24-karat gold tin. The most rare caviar is also from Iran and this comes from the Ossetra sturgeon. Known as Russian Imperial Ossetra caviar, it was traditionally reserved for royalty. Buy some if you can afford to: it costs anything from $1,500 to $1,040 for 9 oz (255 g).
#1 Edible Gold
Beautifully decorative and strangely stylish, 23-karat edible gold flakes will set you back about $30 for a miniscule 100 mg. If you want to really splurge, then you can buy a 10 g bottle of flakes for $1,275. But why bother? Gold leaf might be edible, but it has no nutritional value, and it’s absolutely tasteless. Yet people have been gobbling gold for centuries, and they’re happy to pay the price tag. For example, New York’s 666 Burger Restaurant and Café sells what it calls a Douche Burger that includes everything expensive – lobster, truffles, caviar, and gold-leaf – for $666. And Margo’s Pizzeria in Malta sells a pizza that is topped with (amongst other things) buffalo mozzarella, white truffles, and 24-karat gold leaf for around $2,000, depending on the weight of the truffles – making it the world’s most expensive pizza (Guinness World Records).