Fine dining certainly doesn’t come cheap, but that’s also because some of the ingredients used in global cuisine are jaw-droppingly expensive. Given the processes that go into getting them on the table, though, the tab attached becomes understandable.
The delicate orange strands giving heavenly fragrance to pulaos and puddings have a price that’s sky-high too. Weight-wise, saffron is actually more expensive than gold. That’s because the harvesting process is so painstaking. Each crocus flower produces just three stamens, which are then handpicked and air-dried. An entire football-field of flowers produces just one pound of saffron strands.
Japanese cows famous for high levels of fat-marbling, yield the meat considered best in the world for its flavour, Wagyu beef. The amazing succulence of this beef is because the low melting point of the fat infuses it into the meat as it’s cooking, resulting in the juiciest steaks you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating (that is if you can afford it). The finest is about $100 a pound!
Balsamic vinegar adds a tang to many a dish, but Aceto Balsamio Tradizionale is in a different league altogether. It takes an average of 12 years to produce. Trebbanio grapes grown in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy are harvested, pressed and boiled over an open fire before being stored in wooden casks for up to 25 years. A miniscule 100ml of this potent condiment can set you back about 200 dollars.
Grown in greenhouses in the Yubari region of Japan, Yubari King Melons are the most coveted gift you can give or receive in Japan. The best ones are exceptionally round with a smooth rind. The most exclusive pairs are sold at auction and can cost up to $12,000.
Caviar is a by-word for luxurious dining, becoming more and more expensive because the sturgeon fish it comes from has now been declared an endangered species. The Iranian Almas caviar, from albino sturgeon in the Caspian Sea, is considered the finest in the world. The gold-plated presentation boxes it comes in spell extravagance, costing around $25,000 for 2.2 lbs.