It can be positively wild how expensive certain foods can be. I'm not talking about a $20 soup or $30 burger, either. I'm talking about culinary oddities that, for some reason, cost hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. And many people don't understand why anyone would want to eat something so visually unappealing and unappetizing. From slimy oysters to digested coffee beans to poisonous fish, check out some of the costliest foods we never want to touch with a ten-foot pole.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the flavor profile of branzino. In fact, when done well, it is a delicious fish. It’s slightly less oily than salmon and similar, more common fish. The question is, is it worth the cost? Maybe if you’re a fish connoisseur, but the casual diner could get away with chowing down on an expertly cooked white fish and be just as satisfied.
2. Century Egg
Compared to the price of a regular ‘ole brown egg, century eggs are on the expensive side. And “Why” is a pretty good question to ask in response to seeing the cost of this preserved egg. Despite what the name suggests, you’re not eating a 100-year-old egg. However, it is traditionally a chicken, duck, or quail egg preserved in a salt, rice hull, quicklime, ash, and clay mixture for anywhere from weeks to months at a time. The result? Britannica describes the flavor of this discolored egg
3. Gold Leaf
A common trend among fancy restaurants is adding an edible gold leaf or gold foil to their plates. However, many people don't understand what is desirable about basically eating expensive aluminum foil, and it seems like a flashy and unnecessary addition to an otherwise lovely meal.
4. Shark Fin Soup
Shark fin soup is a delicacy in some countries, but many struggle to understand why one would want to eat it and why people would go to great lengths to harm sharks for it. Most people report it tastes very bland and is definitely not worth the lives of endangered shark species.
Ortolan is a pricey type of songbird that people eat whole and practically raw. This French delicacy is highly controversial, and it grosses people out, as you're meant to eat the bird whole, beak, legs, bones, and all. There is also a strange eating ritual surrounding it, where you place a napkin over your head to trap the aromas.
On an online forum thread discussing this topic, the overwhelming reply was caviar. People view it as a slimy, fishy food that can't possibly taste good and is wildly expensive. I have to say. I'm afraid I have to disagree here, as caviar is buttery and salty with a supple texture that I find delightful.
Like shark fin soup, people take issue with veal not only because of the price but because of the animal cruelty involved. It doesn't help that people who have tried it say it has a mild, neutral flavor, which hardly seems with the high price.
8. Foie Gras
Foie gras is a French type of liver pate made by force-feeding typically a duck or goose to increase the fat content. It's illegal in the U.S. but a delicacy in other countries, and many people don't understand why someone would pay top dollar for fatty mush that an animal suffered for.
9. Black Truffles
Black truffles are far and away one of the most expensive foods you can buy. They're rare and delicate, making them an exclusive food. However, some don't understand why a stinky mushroom is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.
10. Kopi Luwak
Kopi luwak or civet coffee contains partially digested coffee cherries that are eaten and then defecated by Asian palm civets, a type of small mammal. The coffee has a weird, funky taste that many people do not enjoy, but it's still one of the most expensive items.
11. Raw Oysters
Raw oysters are pretty common, and while some may not find them expensive, others wonder why people would pay the high prices for a giant booger. As an oyster lover, I take offense but also understand why raw, slimy oysters may not appeal to everyone.
12. A5 Japanese Wagyu
Ah, yes, Wagyu beef. It's considered one of the most exquisite types of meat, offering a buttery texture and rich flavor. But many people don't see the appeal of paying an arm and a leg for a piece of steak. Nevertheless, it's highly sought after, and people pay wild prices to enjoy it.
13. Steak Tartare
Steak tartare is pretty expensive, considering it's a pile of raw, squishy beef on a plate. While many people, myself included, can get on board with eating raw seafood, raw beef is another story and can be very offputting. But it's often one of the most costly items on the menu.
14. Bone Marrow
Bone marrow is also fairly pricey, and people don't understand why someone would shell out money to eat a slippery, jelly-like bite of bone fat. To those people, I say: you should really try it cause it's delicious. It sounds weird and looks gross, but the flavor is remarkably potent and savory.
Escargot is on my food bucket list, but many don't get why people would want to eat mucous-coated snails right out of their shells. Most people lump raw oysters and escargot in the same slimy, in-shell category, and they're definitely not for everyone.
16. Bird's Nest Soup
Bird's nest soup is a Japanese delicacy consisting of hardened bird saliva dissolved in a broth. It's rare, difficult to make, and expensive, but many people, including me, wonder why anyone would want to slurp on a bird's saliva. However, it's said to have health benefits and medicinal properties.
17. Donkey Cheese
Donkey cheese is a complex food to produce, as it requires roughly 100 donkeys to be milked. Six gallons of milk only makes two pounds of cheese, leading to a high price tag that many find absurd. I'll probably stick with cow cheese and maybe goat cheese every once in a while.
18. Raw Puffin Heart
Often compared to liver, raw puffin heart is a delicacy in Iceland. People also liken it to beef jerky with a distinct slipperiness. I'm not particularly eager to pay the few dollars beef jerky costs, so I'm very unlikely to drop big bills to eat the heart of an endangered bird.
19. Ayam Cemani
Ayam Cemani is an extremely rare breed of chicken that has hyperpigmentation, causing all their feathers, beak, feet, and skin to be black. A dish featuring this chicken can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and the meat tastes exactly like normal chicken. So, it's just about aesthetics.
Abalone is a type of mollusk that can be as large as ten inches wide. People who don't enjoy mollusks can't understand why someone would pay hundreds of dollars to enjoy a giant booger, and the declining population is making this dish almost non-existent.
Fugu is a type of poisonous pufferfish that people enjoy eating raw in a sashimi style. While some people just don't like raw fish, others find this dish frightening, as their poison can kill a person quickly, and it seems odd to pay top dollar to possibly die.
22. Sea Cucumber
One of the ugliest creatures on earth, sea cucumbers are considered a Chinese delicacy closely associated with status. They're quite expensive, but people say the flavor is unremarkable and bland, like cabbage or water chestnuts.
Lobster is far from the priciest item on this list, but many people loathe these freaky sea bugs and can't understand why people are obsessed with them. Yes, they look weird, and their guts are green and squishy, but lobster meat is sensationally succulent and sweet, so I get it.
24. Calf Sweetbread
Calf sweetbread is a yummy-sounding name that disguises how gross this dish is. It's the pancreas from a calf, offering a gamey flavor and soft texture. No one knows why people call them sweetbreads, but I suspect it was to hide the fact that it's a literal pancreas.
25. Ruby Roman Grapes
These are the most expensive grapes in the world, grown in Japan's Ishikawa Prefecture under constant care. One bunch can cost over a thousand dollars. While they sound delicious, they're not substantially better than a bunch of fresh grapes from the farmer's market.
26. Frog Legs
Frog legs can cost over a hundred dollars for one pair, and when served, they very much still look like frog legs. They're a delicacy in several places, including France, China, and Louisiana in the US. This funky food is said to be delicious, but the leg thing is enough to deter most people.
Shrimp is such a beloved food but a lot of people can't get on board with them. While they can be inexpensive, there are some restaurants that have really expensive shrimp plates and for some, the hype really isn't worth it.