Jamón ibérico de bellota, newly legal for import (at $180 per pound), barely cracks the top five on the pricey foods scale. We checked in with gourmet retailers for the rundown on the world's most expensive culinary indulgences.
Like calcium and iron, gold is a mineral that's safe to eat, although it's not an essential part of the human diet. It may be pricey by the pound, but a small shaker of 23K gold sprinkles (80 mg) costs only $30 at Fancy Flours in Bozeman, Mont. The store also carries flakes of gold leaf called "petals" - $45 for 150 milligrams - and packs of 25 small sheets of gold leaf for $75.
Store owner Nancy Quist says all three versions sell exceptionally well: Bakers and bartenders use the precious metal to make dazzling treats for holidays and other special occasions. An opera cake, for example, is a traditional layered sponge cake blanketed in chocolate ganache and adorned with crumbled pieces of gold. For elaborate parties, people add gold sprinkles to glasses of Champagne or signature martinis. One customer even used gold leaf to cover an entire Christmas turkey.
"Gold is a very over-the-top decoration," Quist says. "It's insanely popular around the Oscars - people use it for drinks and to make Oscar-shaped cookies."
NEXT: White truffles