The World’s Most Expensive ____________(fill in the blank)

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Who else is fed up with the world’s most expensive food’ trend?
I’m talking about the $450 pizza (topped with lobster thermidor and black cod) or the $295 hamburger (made with white truffle butter-infused Japanese Wagyu beef and black truffles served on a gold-dusted roll capped with creme fraiche and caviar).
What a waste. Such fine ingredients are assembled but the goal is not to offer a magnificent dining experience but merely a budget-busting one. It’s doubtful that the dishes even originated with a chef. These are shameless stunts perpetrated by restaurant publicists, and most don’t even taste good.

The restaurateur as P.T. Barnum.
The more gimmicky and outrageous the stunt, the more it’s re-posted, re-pinned, and re-tweeted. And not just by the hype-hungry Buzzfeeds of the world: last December’s Most Expensive Christmas Dinner (a gold leaf-wrapped turkey served with 100-year old wine decanted through a filter of diamond dust) got plenty of column inches from traditional media like Time, ABC News, and the Washington Post. This kind of fleeting fame propels ever more short-sighted restaurant owners into the fray of culinary one-upsmanship.

There’s no question that the world of the one-percenters can be a fascinating place of lavish spending and culinary indulgence that the rest of us can only dream of. But this current fascination is not about elite and refined dining; it’s meals for one percenters with 99-percent tastes. It’s pub food like a $760 Scotch egga $1,565 rendition of the peasant chicken stew coq au vin, and even a $17 ‘Diva’ corn dog made with sweetbreads, bone marrow, truffle, and foie gras. And it’s impossible to keep up with the high-stakes most expensive hamburger category where there seems to be a revolving door to the title from all the jostling for preeminence.

Let’s say you want to set a new world’s record.
To make it official you need to go through the ‘Set a Record’ service on the Guinness World Records website. Once the category and methodology have been approved, verification of the feat requires signed statements from two witnesses plus photographic evidence, or the record-setter can pay for the presence of an official Guinness adjudicator. You can see the appeal from the restaurant’s standpoint: it’s a small investment, a quick and easy process, and if they hit it just right it’s a public relations bonanza.

These stunts have worn out their welcome.
Even at their best they’re one-offs based in novelty. Now, absent the novelty we’re left with a joyless can-you-top-this desperation. That plus a bad taste in the mouth from the realization that the world’s most expensive kebab costs as much as the per capita income of a Ugandan.


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