The vision of what is considered “expensive food” can vary from one person to another. For some people, expensive can mean a juicy steak or even a fancy lobster, and for others, it could be anything that’s off the Dollar menu. But, no matter your means, some food is just about out of everybody’s price range. Here are the Top 10 Most Expensive Foods In The World
10. Pule Cheese
Pule cheese is a rarity and a delicious yet highly expensive cheese derived from both donkey and goat milk made only in one small region of the world. Pule is produced in the nature reserve of Zasavica, in Serbia, a highly unusual place for one of the world’s most expensive foods to hail from. This cheese is apparently delicate, soft, and tasty – not unlike a pure goat’s cheese in texture and appearance. It can cost between $600 and $1700 per pound – that’s a lot for a hunk of cheese. The animals the cheese is produced with are milked by hand, and they produce a very small amount of milk. This means it’s a very labor-intensive process – which is something that many of these expensive foods have in common. They’re usually scarce, take a lot of work to produce, and are from a very small part of the world. All of which means they’ve taken on a heightened reputation. Donkey’s milk is unusual in cheese production, and even ardent cheese lovers have likely not tasted it, as it is historically linked with lives of luxury. Apparently, Queen Cleopatra bathed in donkey’s milk to maintain her youthful appearance and keep her energy levels up, although there are no reports about whether this method actually works for those looking for that eternal fountain of youth.
9. Yubari Melon
We might not recognize fruits as being the most prized or expensive foods, but in some parts of the world, they are considered the king of the crop and go for premium, outlandish prices. In Japan, the Yubari Melon is so revered; it can fetch $14,000 dollars for a single melon! It might look like a glorified canteloupe, but apparently, the taste of the Yubari is the most succulent, sweetest melon flavor in the world. It’s described as having a soft flesh with a tender, supple rind which is completely unlike its less flavorsome western melon counterparts. Its expense comes from its scarcity since it is specifically grown on one island, the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Its reputation is so through the roof that the fruit has taken on a level of myth in Japanese culture. They are considered to be the ultimate luxury gift, especially during Chugen, the ‘hungry ghost festival’ which takes place each year in Japan. Interestingly, the fruit is not really native to Japan, as it is a hybrid created from two other cantaloupe cultivars, Earl’s favorite and the American Burpee’s ‘Spicy’ Cantaloupe – so you can’t say that deliciousness doesn’t travel and adapt well. By the looks of it, it’s perfectly round, with slightly mottled skin and a rind delicate to the touch. Farmers often keep part of the stem attached to the melon before the sale, which gives it an interesting, ribbon-on-a-gift-like appearance. Well, with a price like that, at least you save on wrapping paper!
8. Kopi Luwak Coffee
Getting a morning coffee every day from your local coffee shop can add up quite quickly – however, it’s nothing compared to the dent Kopi Luwak Coffee can make on your budget. People who have had the income to afford this $1300 dollar per kilo coffee might have second thoughts when they find out exactly where this magic brew came from. Otherwise known as ‘civet coffee’ and sourced in Indonesia, Luwak Coffee is made up of coffee cherries that have been partially digested by the Asian palm civet, a tree-dwelling animal. Yes, the beans are carefully extracted from the animal’s feces after having fermented in its digestive tract. And yes, there is a gross factor involved with the cultivation of this premium-priced coffee, but those who have tried the coffee consider it a premium taste, too. Of course, like many great, rarified things, it comes at a cost. These days, the understanding of how much money can be made by selling a bag of these pebbles means that producers have turned to breeding the civets and keeping them confined in small pens in order to force-feed them the cherries. So consider this, and where this luxurious, strange coffee is sourced from before dropping a grand on these beans – if the fact that drinking coffee derived from civet droppings isn’t already enough of a turn-off.
7. Iberian Ham
Prosciutto is already not the cheapest thing to buy, so imagine what happens when you try to make it “extra fancy?” Yup, the price tag gets “extra pricey.” Iberian Ham, a delicious Spanish version of the Italian prosciutto, is considered one of the finest, most daringly expensive cured meats in the world. It’s made from the back leg of Iberian black pigs, which are raised both in Spain and Portugal. The pigs are fed exclusively on acorns – the nut from oak trees – which is what makes them so expensive in the first place. Their special diet is also what gives the ham its special flavor – it gives the meat a particularly nutty taste – something not so common. Aged for at least three years, Iberian Ham can sell for quite the hefty price – from $100 a pound to $1200-$1400 for an entire bone-in ham – that better be a big chunk of meat. And this ham is also somewhat a thing of legend – it has been eaten for centuries, and people throughout history have rhapsodized on its taste and quality; even Christopher Columbus carried black pigs with him on his journeys across the ocean. So, if you want to try some nutty ham and you have a few hundred bucks lying around, why not treat yourself to a nice slice of Iberian ham.
6. Wagyu Steak
No steak in the world is more linked with high-end taste and luxurious expense than Wagyu beef. Wagyu is Japanese cattle that come from only four specific regions. It’s specially bred to limit its grazing and movement, to make it a fattier, more tender beef than the well-worn regular cattle that most steak derives from. The Wagyu steaks delivered from the Kobe area in Japan are the most well-known and prized around the world for their delicate texture, densely marbled flesh, and delicious, well-rounded taste. However, there is a case to be made that the lesser-known Matsusaka brand, which comes from the same black cattle, and is even more prized. Indeed, a single Matsusaka cow once sold for $400.000 dollars. Often a tenderloin from these cows can cost up to three hundred dollars or more in a restaurant – so you really have to love your beef to justify throwing that kind of money down on a small cut of it. But, apparently, many people do – the steak became so revered that America began breeding these black cattle around 2012 to cut on import costs and to compete with the Japanese bred cattle – but the Japanese version is still the steak that goes for the highest price around the world. The strict regulation around what makes Wagyu a wagyu steak, including the percentage of fat and marbling required, make this a very particular, intensely beloved product, fit for kings.
5. Foie Gras
One of the old-school staples of a luxury pantry includes this controversial fatty goose or duck liver, known throughout the world as Foie Gras. It’s a delicacy, to be sure, and can go for hundreds of dollars per pound, depending on where it’s sourced. Goose liver is considered to be the top of the line when looking at foie, but the controversial practices around how it is produced have caused several countries around the world to outlaw the process. New York City also banned it in recent years from restaurant menus, and for good reason. The process the animal has to go through to fatten up its liver and make it more delectable and rich in taste includes force-feeding it in a metal tube, which is known as gavage. The practice is still done in France, where the food is so bound to tradition and national dishes that they have so far refused to give up the practice despite continuous protests from animal rights groups. The laws of France even state that ‘foie gras belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France’, and it’s also easy to see why it’s so hard to give up, aside from tradition. It also happens to be a rather often used ingredient found in terrines, mousse, or simply served as a whole chunk of liver, at some of the most expensive and high-end restaurants around the world.
Saffron looks unassuming at first glance. It’s made up of small red threads derived from the Crocus Sativus plant, otherwise known as the ‘saffron crocus.’ But it is by far the world’s costliest spice by weight, often fetching up to $5000 dollars per kilo, or five hundred dollars an ounce. It’s made by drying the spice threads, which are then used as a seasoning or coloring agent in many different cuisines. Saffron is most popularly recognized as providing the rich, yellow tint and subtle flavor to a Spanish paella or French Bouillabaisse stew, but it’s just as used and prized throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, where it was a staple of the spice trade. Its elevated price tag comes from the fact that the crocus is so delicate, with each flower only yielding a scant few threads inside of it, which need to be plucked by hand by farmers, so it is considered a highly labor-intensive crop. To get a pound’s worth of saffron threads, you need around 75,000 flowers – and considering each is hand-harvested, it begins to make more sense why this spice is so highly valued. It isn’t just a matter of throwing some seeds in the ground and grabbing whatever grows, the crocus thrives in very specific conditions, and many laborers are required to harvest it – enough to justify its luxurious cost. So, it’s worth considering all of this, the care and dedication that goes into its production, the next time you’re looking at a tiny tin of it at the supermarket, scratching your head and wondering why the stuff is so pricey.
3. White Truffles From Alba
Nestled in the mountainous territory of Piedmont, Italy, is a town called Alba, known for its exquisite wines, refined culinary traditions, and of course, the famed delicacy, the legendary white truffle. The white truffle from this area is known as the creme de la creme of truffles and locally as “the Truffle of the White Madonna.” People who have sampled it have often described its taste as something close to a spiritual awakening and is considered superior to the also delectable black truffle. White truffles are one of the rarest and one of the most expensive and luxurious food items in the world. And though they can be found in other regions, the people of Alba treat them like royalty. To give an example of how high-end this mushroom specimen is, a three and a quarter-pound truffle was once sold to a customer for over $300,000 dollars. Truffles are so prized because they are difficult to cultivate and grow several inches underground, and the process of locating them is quite an elaborate one, full of superstition and tradition. Truffle hunters descend upon the surrounding hills of Piedmont once a year with their trained truffle-hunting dogs, who sniff out the fungi and signal to the hunters. Once the truffle is located, the hunter carefully digs the truffle out and gently removes the dirt from the surrounding outer layer. And the result is sublime. They’re known to pair with many dishes, like pasta or risotto, draped over polenta and eggs, steak, or simply on their own – so, by all means, indulge – but get ready to open up that wallet wide!
2. Almas Beluga Caviar
Caviar is probably one of the foods most commonly linked with luxury; however, caviar is a pretty broad term, and not all caviar is considered equal. Some types of caviar are beyond most people’s wildest, priciest dreams, and the Almas Beluga Caviar is largely considered, per pound, the most expensive food in the world. In Russian, ‘Almas’ means diamond and this is the food equivalent of a crown jewel, often selling for around $35,000 dollars per kilo. The color is a light, golden hue due to the fact that it comes out of an albino Beluga sturgeon that can be up to a hundred years old. Needless to say, it definitely puts the price tag into perspective. Like many of these luxurious, expensive foods, there is some controversy around the harvesting of this caviar concerning animal rights. The sturgeon population is depleting in key parts of the world because they are so prized, making this ingredient all the more rare in the long term.
1. The Fortress Stilt Fisherman Indulgence
This odd-sounding dish is not a single food per se, but rather a dessert first invented in a resort in Sri Lanka that sells for an eye-popping price of $15,000 dollars. Yes, you heard that right; somewhere out in the world is a place where you can drop fifteen G’s on a small plate of dessert and show whoever happens to be around you at that moment who is truly boss. Or a sucker. The Fortress Stilt Fisherman indulgence is indeed the most indulgent dessert ever concocted, made up of Dom Perignon and Irish cream, with a mango and pomegranate compote. Um, that doesn’t really sound like it adds up to $15,000 big ones!? Well, it also comes complete with a champagne sabayon and a small chocolate sculpture of a fisherman sitting on a stilt. To keep that stilt balanced? It comes with an 80-carat aquamarine stone you can bring home afterward. Sure, you’re obviously paying for the jewel over the dessert, but we’re pretty sure the dessert tastes fine, too. This artful dessert is like an aesthetic sugary fortress, made only for the rich of the world.