Caviar, Truffles, and 9 Other Really Expensive Foods (Slideshow)
Alba White Truffles
These ugly little lumps of fungus might look funny, but when shaved over pasta or eggs, the Alba white truffle is stunningly delicious. They’re notoriously difficult to come by and are in high demand, resulting in a shockingly high price tag: in some cases they’ll set you back nearly $10,000 per kilo.
Caviar in any form is going to be expensive. Nowadays you can find it in supermarkets, but even there it’s out of most people’s price ranges. Most “real” sturgeon caviar sells for well over $100 per ounce, but the most expensive caviar on earth is called Almas caviar. The older a sturgeon is, the more valuable its caviar, and these sturgeons are the oldest ones around. It’s not always available, but when it is, a kilo can easily sell for $10,000.
We should be thankful that a little saffron goes a long way, because it’s the most expensive spice in the world; only three of these tiny little threads grow on each of the crocuses that they’re harvested from, and a gram, which contains 200 to 300 threads, can sell for anywhere from $6 to $9, usually around $70 per ounce.
The most high-end beef in the world, Kobe is bred in Japan’s Hyogo prefecture, and the cows are famously given daily massages, fed beer, and live a life of ultimate luxury. The resulting meat is extremely well-marbled with fat that’s healthier than usual, and it’s tender, melt-in-your-mouth, and extremely luxurious. There’s a less expensive American counterpart called Wagyu that’s similar, but nothing rivals the real deal. Unfortunately it’s also very expensive: A pound of it can sell for more than $150 when purchased raw, and some restaurants charge upwards of $35 per ounce.
Densuke Black Watermelon
Ever hear of a black watermelon? Probably not, because they’re extremely rare. They’re only grown on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, and a harvest will only yield 30 or so of them. They also happen to taste delicious, with a perfect texture and sweetness level. If you want one you’ll have to pay up, though: a 17-pounder once sold for more than $6,000.
Yubari King Melon
It may look like any old cantaloupe, but these melons (which some claim to be the sweetest and most delicious on earth) fetch a fortune at auction. In 2008, one sold for a whopping $22,872!
The world’s most expensive mushrooms, mastutakes grow in parts of Asia, Europe, and North America, and are quite rare because they all must be harvested by hand. The most prized ones are associated with the Japanese red pine, and they’re hard to find under leaves on the forest floor. The highest-quality ones have been known to sell for upwards of $1,000 per pound.
Albarragena Jamon Iberico de Bellota
The most expensive commercially available ham is the Albarragena Jamon Iberico de Bellota, the highest grade of this high-end Spanish ham. It’s only available at the Food Hall in Selfridges in London, and the 15-pound ham sells for $2,682.
Shark Fin Soup/ Bird’s Nest Soup
These are both popular dishes at weddings in China, and they both command very high prices. The bird’s nests used to make the soup is comprised entirely of swiftlet saliva, and they come in red, yellow, and white, with red being the most prized; they retail for thousands of dollars per kilogram. Shark fin soup is made from, well, shark fin, and because it’s incredibly inhumane to slice the fin off of a shark, leaving it to die a slow death, the dish is thankfully being banned. Until then, diners pay upwards of $100 for a bowl.
The Bluefin tuna is probably the most prized fish for sushi and sashimi, and the most prized cut is the belly, also known as the o-toro. This fatty, luscious mouthful is usually the most expensive item on sushi menus, sometimes selling for upwards of $20 per slice.
If there’s one food that simply tastes expensive, it’s foie gras, the fattened liver of a duck or goose. Usually served seared on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside, it’s buttery rich, and the definition of decadent (it can also be pureed into a pate). A small portion isn’t outrageously expensive, but still definitely a luxury item; at New York’s American Cut Steakhouse, for example, you can adorn your steak with a slice for an extra $18.