Saturday, January 8, 2011

Would You Like To Have Extra Gold Toppings, Sir?

Hi all. I'm currently reading Extreme Cuisine by Jerry Hopkins. For you the weak-hearted, I suggest to leave this book behind, some of the pictures depicted are foul to the eyes. From monkeys, to bats, or cockroach, you name it, its all true and happening at the other side of the world. For me, I'm one curious neophile and looking forward to try these extreme food. But relax, today we're not going to touch that. Today, i'm interested in Gold. Yes, turns out that expensive rare metal has been used over centuries as ingredients. Let me take you through some of the interesting ones. 

Sometime in late 80's and early 90's, during the Japanese economic boom and the riches were discovering ways to leisure in their extra fortune, the fad at the time was food garnished with real gold. Restaurants in major cities like Tokyo began offering menus ranging from curry to ice cream with gold sprinkles on top. The popular one was sushi wrapped in gold leaf served along with the traditional seaweed wrapped sushi. This trend arise at the time as restaurant owners realized this was a considerably simple way to increase the value of their meals. How's that possible? That's real 22 carats gold! 

Here's how. These gold flakes appear to have more volume than it actually weight. And here's the process. One thick bar of gold are mechanically pressed into 1/100.000.000 of an inch thick. They are cut after, and place in an ox-hide pouch covered by bamboo stripes. They will then be continually beaten using hammer sledges. After approximately 6 hours, the leaf size will increase twelve times in size, and it's so thin that you could easily tear it apart. 

At the time, a plate of gold sushi worth about 5000 Yen or $40. This trend grows to the neighboring countries such as South Korea where you can find restaurants and coffee shops serving fish, pork, coffee and liquor sprinkled with gold dust to customer who believed that it helped clear waste in their body.  One serving of ten fish with 'special seasoning' could cost as high as $1,500. Of course, despite of the 'healthy' claims, Gold in that tiny amount has no direct effect whatsoever to the body.

 Me, myself, I happened to try one of these gold flakes. Or should I say, drank one. It was back in December 2009 when me and a group of friends were on a trip to Bromo mountain. We were chillin' at the villa and found an abandoned bottle of champagne in the shelf with a 'gold leaf 22 carats' on the label. The bright shiny tiny yellow flakes was like calling us to have a sip of it. And we did, opened the bottle, drank it. I felt good afterwards. It was most likely the 'placebo effect' but oh well. I feel accomplished having scratched off one extreme cuisine from my list. As many fads come and go, I'd like to see if gold makes it comeback anytime soon. Well maybe, if it ever goes cheaper compared to the rising chili price in Indonesia. =P Until then, I'll see you in my next foodventure.

Oh, and now I finally gets Flight Facilities lyrics in Crave You: "I walked into the room dripping in gold, yeah dripping in gold".   =P

Smile on, Shine on.

Fellexandro Ruby
Food Enthusiast & Photographer

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