Tuesday, August 26th, 2008...12:46 pm

10 Most Expensive Foods

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With the world in the grip of an international food crisis, supermarket prices increasing weekly and the cost of a Pot Noodle at an all-time high it seemed like a good time to take a somewhat tasteless (pun intended) look at the world’s most expensive foods.

While people across the globe struggle to feed their families, many of these luxurious foodstuffs are most likely to be found piled high on a silver spoon and stuffed into the yapping holes beneath the snooty noses of the world’s wealthiest gourmands.

Put another way – if you want to make an omelette with the following ingredients you’ll probably need to remortgage your house, I’m not sure it would taste too good though!

(Note: the prices below are attempted approximations based on data from a broad range of web sources; if you can find a more accurate price, or any other expensive foods, then let us know!)

10. Fugu Fish
Price per kilo: £70-£160 ($125-$300)
Price per pound: £30-70 ($55-$135)

Fugu, an ancient Japanese food, is highly revered and served in a heavily ritualised manner. But as Homer Simpson is well aware, this innocuous-sounding delicacy has a deadly aspect. Made from the meat of particularly poisonous pufferfish (or blowfish, pictured above), just one of which contains enough poison to kill 30 people, it probably comes as no surprise that, if prepared incorrectly, an unlucky diner is likely to experience nausea, vomiting, paralysis and eventually death by asphyxiation.

So, potentially containing a poison (tetrodotoxin) 1,200 times more lethal than cyanide with no known antidote, it might not be the most expensive food on the list, but it is the only one that may cost you the ultimate price… (I should add that deaths resulting from incorrectly-prepared fugu are very rare).

9. Jamón Ibérico de Bellota
Price per kilo: £100-£210 ($185-$395)
Price per pound: £45-£95 ($85-$180)

Jamón ibérico de bellota (which translates as Iberian acorn ham) is the world’s most expensive pig product. The highest grade of Spanish jamón ibérico meat, jamón ibérico de bellota comes from the Black Iberian Pig breed which is raised free-range among the forests along the Spanish-Portuguese border and eats only acorns. This luxury ham has only been available to buy in the US and UK since 2007 but now has a steady supply both sides of the Atlantic.

8. Matsutake Mushrooms
Price per kilo: £105-£1,050 ($200- $2,000)
Price per pound: £50-£480 ($90-$905)

The matsutake mushroom (Tricholoma matsutake) has been highly-valued in Japan for centuries. Also known as mattake, this large fungus is primarily found on particular types of pine tree in areas of Japan, Korea and China (although they are also grown around the world and exported to Japan to satisfy the voracious demand).

In keeping with the country’s reverence for ancient customs, some reports attribute Japan’s affection for the matsutake to its respect for tradition rather than the mushroom’s flavour, which is said to be rather bland.

7. Kopi Luwak Coffee
Price per kilo: £140-£700 ($265-$1325)
Price per pound: £65-£315 ($120-$600)

Here’s a weird one. Kopi Luwak, also known as civet coffee, is the world’s most expensive coffee. Produced primarily in Indonesia, what sets this bean apart from your average Gold Blend is that the coffee berries are eaten by the wild Asian Palm Civet (a small feral cat-like mammal, pictured above), excreted undigested and then harvested from their droppings. Apparently, the animal’s stomach acids cause an enzymatic process that imbues the bean with a complex and unique flavour.

For those of you who haven’t tried a “crappuccino”, as some jokers have dubbed it, you may not only be sceptical as to the culinary merits of an excreted coffee bean, but moreover, its level of hygiene. However, a scientific study carried out in 2002 verified the coffee’s quality; the lead researcher confirmed that tests revealed “the Kopi Luwak beans had negligible amounts of enteric (pathogenic) organisms associated with faeces”.

Funny, that’s exactly how I like my coffee: milk, no sugar and negligible amounts of faeces…

6. Kobe Beef
Price per kilo: £295-£410 ($550-$770)
Price per pound: £130-£190 ($250-£350)

For meat lovers Kobe beef is the holy grail of steaks. In Japan a meal consisting of this legendary meat, prized for its rich flavour, tenderness and heavy marbling of fat will set you back around ¥13000 (£65/$130) on your credit card.

The criteria for 100% authentic Kobe beef is very strict: the meat must come from the black Tajimi-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle, born, raised and slaughtered in the Hyōgo Prefecture region of Japan (in which lies the city of Kobe). According to tradition the cows are fed a special diet and are brushed and massaged regularly.

Rumours abound when it comes to the cows’ special treatment – many refer to them being fed beer and being rubbed with sake (Japanese rice wine). However, these are generally dismissed as popular myths.

The near-mythological status of Kobe beef has lead to an industry of imitators. Nowadays, cheaper “Kobe-style” steaks from cross-bred domestic cattle are readily available in steakhouses and butchers throughout the West. According to experts these approximations should not be considered authentic Kobe and pale in comparison to the real thing.

5. Saffron
Price per kilo: £580-£5,800 ($1,100-$11,000)
Price per pound: £265-£2,650 ($500-$5,000)

Saffron is undisputedly the most valuable spice in the world. Derived from the saffron crocus (Crocivus sativus) which is believed to have originated in Greece, it has been cultivated for over 3,000 years for culinary and medicinal uses and gets a mention in many classical writings including the Bible and Shakespeare.

Today, saffron’s characteristic vibrant yellow-orange colour and strong aromatic flavour is evident in a wide range of international recipes from Spanish Paella and French Bouillabaisse to Indian Biryani dishes.

In terms of price, there have been periods when Saffron has been worth more than its weight in gold. This high price comes from the flower’s exacting growing conditions and labour intensive harvesting process – a consequence of the huge number of flowers needed to produce the spice –around 150,000 per kilogram (68,000 per pound).

4. Bird’s Nest Soup
Price per kilo: £1,000-£5,000 ($2,000-£10,000)
Price per pound: £455-£2,270 ($910-$4,535)

When it comes to strange culinary delicacies, China’s Bird’s Nest Soup is right up there with monkey brains and haggis. The birds whose homes make up the soup’s main ingredient are a handful of swift species, particularly the White-nest Swiflet and the Black-nest Swiftlet.

Known as the ‘Caviar of the East’, these valuable nests are actually made of hardened strands of the birds’ unique glue-like saliva – that’s right, spit soup. As you would expect, harvesting the nests of these cave-dwelling creatures is a tricky job, albeit one that has been refined over around 400 years.

The birds nests come in a variety of colours and though all are prized for their culinary, nutritional, medicinal and even aphrodisiacal properties the rarer, and more expensive, ‘blood-red’ nests are prized most of all.

3. White Truffles
Price per Kilo: £1,600-£5,000 ($3,000-$9,350)
Price per pound: £725-£2,250 ($1360-$4,200)

The elusive white, or Alba, truffle (Tuber magnatum) has stubbornly evaded attempts at domestication and cultivation. Therefore, the only sources of these precious fungi are to be found underground on the roots of certain tree species in particular regions of Italy and Croatia. Since they are notoriously difficult to find truffle-hunters are traditionally aided in their task by pigs, as the truffle’s aroma resembles that of a porcine sex hormone (although dogs are also used).

Of all the types of truffle, the white truffle is held in the highest esteem due to its intense flavour, rich aroma and aforementioned scarcity. The highest price ever paid for a truffle was in December 2007 when a 1.5kg (3.3lb) white truffle sold for $330,000 (£165,000). It was, however, sold at a charity auction; therefore the huge price tag is not a reflection of the average market price.

2. Almas Caviar
Price per Kilo: £10,000-£18,000 ($18,500-$34,200)
Price per Pound: £4,500-£8,165 ($8,400-$15,500)

If you want to flash your cash, nothing says “opulent decadence” quite like a bowl of shiny black fish eggs. For those in the know, however, it is the pale amber eggs of the Iranian Almas caviar that are the ultimate in conspicuous culinary crowing.

According to London’s Caviar House & Prunier in 2003, where 1kg of Almas in a 24-karat gold tin will apparently set your bank account back £25,000 ($47,500), the increasing demand for this rare delicacy meant that buyers of Almas were put on a four-year waiting list. Still, I suppose it gives them a chance to get saving.

1. Gold
Price per kilo: £17,000-£60,000 ($33,000-$110,000)
Price per pound: £8,000-£27,000 ($15,000-$50,000)

Known in the food industry as additive E175, to the rest of us it’s just plain old gold – officially the world’s most expensive foodstuff. Prized for its, erm, flavourless taste and, erm, golden colour it is used primarily in the form of small quantities of 23K gold leaf or flakes as decoration for ludicrously lavish and pricey dishes and food products (see the DeLafée website for some ridiculous, gaudy examples).

As one of nature’s edible metals gold, like iron, is safe to eat in relatively small amounts. According to EdibleGold.com, “Gold is an inert metal that simply passes through the intestinal system. Edible Gold will pass out of the body after about 24 hours unchanged without causing any harm or reaction on the body”. After which, I presume, the lavatory becomes the recipient of the world’s most expensive crap.



40 Comments

  • HOLLY CRAP!, in the middle east, there is this thing that grows underground, half potato, half mushrooms!. I do not know the name of it in english!, but its also sells for thousands of dollars a kilo. People spend GOLD amount on food while other’s are losing their homes!

  • Er….. regarding #7:

    The photo isn’t of a Civet. It’s a Meerkat. Although they do look a bit similar.

    Meerkats are quite a bit cuter, though.

  • Dear God, this disgusts me! My sweet little, innocent, Meer Cats being gutted out to make Cappucino! Their #2 used as flavor. I am not a Cappucino drinker but I WILL inform my friends and family who are!

  • Gold? How taste the gold medals?

  • what is wrong with this world!!!!
    a waste of money and innocent lives….

  • FYI Barb – Did you retain anything you read in this blog. 1) They are not Meerkats (or Meer Cats;) they are “Asian Palm Civet.” 2) They do not gut the animal, they retrieve the beans after they are pooped out. 3) Some folks just call it cappucino; every cappucino is not made from these beans.
    It seems to me they could just find a like enzyme and submerse the beans. I will just stick to my regular coffee, it tastes fine.

  • Barb: Nothing happens to the civet, the raw coffee beans are extracted from the animal’s faeces. As far as your cappucino drinking friends, I doubt any of them are having civet coffee, because it’s not something your average coffee house would stock.

    RE: the mention in the article, since the civet is not a release domesticated species but rather a wild animal, “feral” is not an appropriate term.

  • What’s wrong with you? Barb.

    No one will gut a meercat for coffee seeds.
    They just wait for them to explete their corporal function and so be beans are “excreted undigested and then harvested from their droppings”.

    Technically it means that someone dig into their poop and fishes out the beans.

    And fortunately not all cappuccinos are made with this coffee.

  • Half of the world is either starving or barely surviving, whilst too many stupid people are concerned with the status of paying huge amounts of money for supposedly status food. These people have not evolved sufficiently and have a very long way to go before they can consider themselves civilised beings.

  • Also, gold flakes are put into the cinnamon drink Goldstrike: http://www.specialitydrinks.com/P-3176.aspx

  • Read #7 again… It says “excreted undigested”.. This means is passed through the animal completely (not exactly a savory idea).. They are not killed. The article also says these animals are rare so why would they kill a rare animal that makes them tons of money?

    Must be good to rich enough to waste money like this on food. And I’ve had gold flakes before.. They don’t taste like anything, best I can tell. It’s the ultimate: Very expensive, tasteless, no nutritional value, it’s only good for showing off how stinkin’ rich you are…

  • Umm…Barb, the civets aren’t being gutted, the beans pass all the way through before they’re harvested.

  • Everyone who has posted so far, with the exception of TempusFugitive, is a semi-illiterate fool.

    Are you people on medication? Are you children?

  • Cant you all read? They dont kill the little critters. the coffee bean is part of their diet. They eat it, then poop what the animal cannot digest. The harvesters only harvest the poop off of the forest floor, they dont gut the animal…and the coffee is good.

  • I just cannot imagine spending this kind of money on food. That is insane. Even the cheapest item on the list (the fish) at $50/lb is our grocery money for the week for me and my husband.

    As for the poop coffee, I think I will pass. Maybe I might try a sip before knowing that how it is made, but now …. I am a little grossed out.

  • So if the gold I ate will be out of my body intact, I will be sh1tting gold! Haha this is hilarious dude, I’m doing it, I’m eating some ice cream with a little gold, then sh1t it and then serve a round of ice creams to my mates!

  • Got this link from my friend,
    aww….
    my poo is always gold,
    in colour.
    *LOL*

  • gReat, have you ever eat all those foods???

  • Re:number 4
    what’s strange about haggis?
    it’s just minced sheep meat (usually the heart and liver) mixed with onions, oatmeal and spices.
    The bit people find strange is that its usually boiled in a bag made from the animals stomach but this is rare nowadays and sausage type casings are more common.
    it may sound a little disgusting but boy does it taste good :)

    at least you know whats in it… you don’t even want to know whats in a sausage :) (my brother is a butcher and after seeing him make sausages i’ve never eaten one since, its basicly all the crap left over…. bollocks..intestines …. whatever)

  • who cares?, its a meerkat, kill em!

  • The almas caviar is getting more and more expensive because sturgeon fish are getting rarer and rarer. look for the price of this product to continue to rise

  • It is appropriate the writer uses a meerkat as representative of a civit. His readers seem to be mostly idiots with a few exceptions. That is 10 minutes of my life I will not get back. However, back is the button I will now hit.

  • Two things. First, No. 7, ‘kopi’ already means coffee, so adding the latter word is inefficient. Also, ‘Kopi Luwak’ is a packed coffee(not instant) brand and a cafe name in Jakarta. Second, bird’s nests that’s used in chinese food come from Indonesia too.

  • Why are people hating on people who can afford to eat gold? The biggest lie in the world is this: the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. In truth, when the rich get richer, the poor also get richer.

  • why would you spend 1k on a spit filled bird nest?!?! (i can gob in your mouth for a fiver =]) and also i can be paid for a crappucino lolz!!

  • you all seem to be mugs of the media blog arh just like the tabloids but the internet ,squabbling like desparate pidgeons to see who has the most knowledgeable piece of useless info who cares who really really cares ?meerkat excremment do you all really live such boring lives get a hobby !or go adopt a meerkat for £2.00 a month,duhhhhhhhhh !

  • Nice one, two of them are majorly imported from Indonesia…

  • yeah cool but not as helpful as can be and a little bit unbelievable

  • mission complete
    March 7th, 2010 at 6:08 am

    well,Chinese people believe that bird nest has a lot of benefits when you eat it continually. They believe to eat bird nest while the mother are giving birth, it brings good stuff like your skin would be clean and great also great for your baby’s brain.
    It should be something more than just believe because it’s a traditional Chinese food that means if it is just a bullshit, why they believe from a long time ago??
    What makes it expensive because the bird are getting rare but the increase comes from the people who want to eat them.
    Even the bird nest is expensive, but it play some rule in Hongkong . So there are people who making money to live with.
    From my opinion, when you has more money to spend, it’s all up to you. You already work hard for making the money and it’s good when you spent it for something different.

  • He’s merely so adorable!

  • Wow….
    Coffee from some cute rodent’s sh** pardon the french
    Soup made out of a nest of bird ‘s spit
    Sashimi out of a fish that could potentially kill you
    Beer massaged beef from the land of the rising sun
    Fish eggs from Ahmadinejad’s neck of the woods
    Fancy dug dirt mushrooms
    Edible gold?
    What exactly does saffron taste like again?
    So being that I’m poor working class, am I missing out on anything? Just checking…

  • my relatives on my mom’s side of the family tried to make me eat it. i think i had the same problem at the time i heard it was bird spit. but for the sake of health, I am now taking it regularly.

    btw, i don’t buy the super-expensive kind like old people do. the ready-to-drink kind at the stores are pretty affordable. (e.g. http://www.geocities.jp/hongkong_bird_nest/index_e.htm)

  • You know, at first glance I was turned aback from the excessive prices established for these cuisines while there are people starving in this world. But, why not, if you got it enjoy!

  • i like kopi luwak

  • With the White Truffles they prefer to use dogs nowadays. Female Pigs can sniff them out a little better but pigs eat truffles. Dogs, however, do not like them. Therefore they have no product loss with dogs.

  • @ workinggal77 saffron is bitter and smells like hay. Its mostly desired for its color which bleeds into food or textiles and turns it into a pretty color. A little goes a long way.

  • Good luck with eating gold..

    http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/o/occupational_metal_induced_liver_damage_gold/intro.htm

  • The picture of a civet cat in the Kopi section is not a civet cat. It is a South African meerkat! Please rectify.

  • Just to change the mood. Ibérico acorn feed dry cured ham, from Spain is well above all the comments I have been reading. It comes from a special breed of pigs which
    ​genealogical background is rare enough that each pig is inscribed in a genealogical book, so truth about the product can be traced.
    The pigs are raised with great care and live freely in beautiful woodlands of acorn, cork trees and wild grasses, once the time comes to be process as food, the whole procedure is again done under careful controls. It may take 5 to 7 years before one can eat a ham from those pigs which by the way are full of taste and healthy. If you have the opportunity to try some of it, you will forget for a while about everything else. Not only the cured hams from Iberico pig are exquisite, but all parts of the pig have the most delicious flavour and tender meat.
    Raising Ibérico pigs, maintains a most important ecosystem of Mediterranean woodland and provides work an income for many families.
    I can’t afford it, but I am glad every thing about Iberico pig exist.

  • the civet coffee taste GREAT. I’m not rich and I don’t care about status-food. But that coffee is worth every cent. I drink it once per year. to all of you stupid fools that talk bad about people who eat expensive food, GET REAL! most people don’t care about the status, but about that it taste very good.
    I am sorry for some of the poor people, but hey let’s get real, they’re not really trying to push their way out of poverty



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