The world's most expensive foods are not what you'd expect

Kevin Farrell

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If you are what you eat, then the ultra-rich who can afford to feast on these foods are very well off indeed. Here are eight of the world’s most expensive foods.


Italian white truffles: $45,000 per lb.  

Your run of the mill, everyday white truffle will already set you back more than $3,000 per pound in 2018. But for those dishes in which a $3k garnish just won’t do, consider the case of the record-setting Italian truffles that sold for $85,600 at auction in November of 2017.

An Italian model presented the beauties on a red velvet pillow to attendees before Hong Kong billionaire Eugene Fung made the winning bid on three truffles weighing just 1.9 pounds. What made the already pricey truffles skyrocket? Blame a particularly disastrous growing year in Italy that wiped out supply across Europe.

Ayem Cemani: Up to $5,000 per pair

This rare Indonesian breed of chicken is known for its stunning all-black appearance. From beak to feet, every bit of the bird is a deep shade of ebony, including its meat and organs when butchered. Ayem Cemani is known as the “Lamborghini of poultry,” and consuming it is said to bring good fortune and a cure for various illnesses. Though counterfeiters sell black chickens online for $99 to $400, there are believed to be less than 3,500 of the actual breed alive today in Indonesia.

Kopi Luwak coffee: $300 per lb.

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What is Kopi Luwak? Kopi Luwak is another interesting coffee that’s unique to the Sumatra islands. Kopi Luwak is known as ‘the most expensive coffee in the world‘, and for a good reason. This type of coffee is produced in one of the most unusual ways you’ll ever hear. Kopi Luwak refers to the process where palm civet cats eat and poop out coffee cherries. During this process, the seeds inside the coffee cherries are typically fermented and protected by a parchment layer. The farmers’ main job is to find and collect cat poop, where they’ll extract, clean, and process the coffee beans from inside. Once this is all done, it’ll be ready for distribution. Kopi Luwak exhibits an earthy tone that’s similar to mushroom and tomato. This complex taste is the result of the acid from palm civet cat’s stomach and the wet-hulling process, which ferments the coffee beans. The distinct flavor notes also help increase the coffee price points. Along with high demand and little supply. Kopi Luwak can get around $100 or more per pound. If it’s Wild Kopi Luwak, it’ll cost even more. This is where farms will go around searching for wild civet cats and their feces. It takes ages to collect enough beans for production. That’s why they’re super expensive! Try Wild Kopi Luwak for yourself here: �������������������� #takengonkoffie #acehhandpickedcoffeebeans #sumatrancoffee #coffeelover #coffeeporn #luwak #civetcoffee #premiumcoffee #kopiluwak #wildluwak #arabicagayo #gayohighland

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The most expensive coffee in the world earns that distinction because of the digestive time required to bring it to market – this coffee is made from beans that have been previously eaten by palm civets, and then discharged as waste. This sometimes earns this luxury product the decidedly unglamorous nickname “cat poop coffee" or "weasel poop coffee" (a civet is not actually related to either animal). Coffee aficionados say not to knock it until you’ve tried it. The unique, ahem, harvesting process brings out delicate flavors not otherwise attributed to your everyday cup of joe.

Saffron: $2,240 per lb.

Expensive because of the intense labor required to harvest saffron, each stigma of the crocus flower must be individually plucked by hand before being dried. Because each flower only produces three stigmas, it takes hundreds of thousands of plants to produce a single pound. On top of that, these crocuses bloom primarily in only four countries: Iran, Spain, Greece and India. Thankfully, a little bit of this delicate spice goes a long, long way. Buyers should beware of yellow saffron sometimes used to cut the spice. Only the red stigma possess a flavor.

Madagascar vanilla beans: $660 per pound

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������ PANTRY MAKEOVER CHALLENGE ������ I used to buy imitation vanilla. Not only is pure extract better for you, but it can be so strong, you don't need to use as much (justifying the extra cost). I'm going to tell you how you can make your own: Start with a quarter pound of vanilla beans, and cut them each in half lengthwise, and then make another incision down the middle of each half (without cutting all the way through). Put them in a jar, completely cover the beans with clear vodka, and wait 2-4 weeks. You can filter it out or leave the beans in there and keep using it for a stronger vanilla flavor each time. You can also use a darker spirit like aged rum; however, the rum flavor is incredibly strong. You *will* taste it in your baking. For some, that's a plus! ��

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Second only to saffron when it comes to the priciest spices, premium vanilla comes from three distinct parts of the world: Mexico, Tahiti, and Madagascar. The latter of the three is known for its deep, rich, almost bourbon-like flavor, and can command a hefty price. Vanilla, unlike saffron, is a critical ingredient in thousands of recipes, from baked goods to frozen treats. So how expensive is the pricey mainstay? A California ice cream maker told CBS that in 2017 vanilla usurped dairy as her biggest cost.

Blonde d’Aquitaine beef: $3,200 per steak

Lesser known than Japanese Wagyu or Kobe beef, this French breed commands the world’s highest price per steak – or rather, the 1998-2000 vintage ribsteaks do, of which there are less than 100 remaining. One reason that 170-year-old butcher Boucherie Polmard is able to preserve such control over its product: only two chefs in the world are allowed to cook its steaks. Only Fabrice Vulin of Michelin-two-star restaurant Caprice in Hong Kong, and Pierre Négrevergne of La Terrace Mirabeau in Paris have mastered the delicate art of preparing this unique meat.

Yubari King melon: $10,000 per fruit

Grown in greenhouses in the Yubari region of Japan, this luxury food is typically given in pairs as a summertime gift during Chugen. Prized for their sweet taste and identical look, these melons are – well, they’re cantaloupes. Very, very expensive cantaloupes. In 2017, a pair sold at auction for $30,000. Just like champagne, the melons must be grown in Yubari to carry the name, but you can buy seeds from the region online for a few bucks and try growing your own.

Iranian Beluga caviar: $18,000 per lb.

No food screams luxury like caviar, and Almas, from the Iranian beluga is the top of the top. Like lobster here in the states, roe was once seen as peasant food to be reluctantly consumed by fishermen in desperate need of protein. Today, these golden “white” eggs are prized above all other caviars due to their scarcity and delicate flavor. Produced only by albino sturgeon more than 100 years old, prices are astronomical because supply is extremely limited. Almas caviar is literally worth more than its weight in gold – which, by the way, it comes in. Tins of the roe are made from 24-karat gold.


Kevin Farrell

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