A fondness for dishes decorated with edible gold (‘Bling Food’) sweeps out top restaurants around the world. Edible gold is mainly used for luster and appearance. Thick gold leaf is only about 7.07 micrometers and is usually 23 carats. The only physical sensation associated with eating gold is the most subtle crisis; it doesn’t even feel metallic. So, if it doesn’t affect the taste, why eat it? The answer is related to metal metaphorical content. Eating gold is about self-image, allowing one to impress others.
What is the difference between ‘normal’ and ‘edible gold’ leaves?
24 carat pure gold leaf. In its pure state it is very soft and smooth and hence is mixed with other alloys to create different levels of hardness and to adjust the color tone. That is why most jewelry is 18 or 22 carat gold (mixed with other metals); 24-carat is too soft for everyday use. The same principle applies to gold leaf. When mixed with copper, silver, etc., you can get a variety of colors ranging from slightly reddish tones, to bright yellow, to white gold. Alloys that are mixed to make this variant are not edible (like copper). Edible gold (especially 23 carats) is almost pure gold but mixed with silver, which is edible, so it can really be digested.
When did we first start eating gold?
It was reported that the ancient Egyptians discovered that by eating gold powder a person could become immortal. In the Middle Ages rich people graced their lavish banquets with golden patina. Grilled birds and other meat dishes are wrapped in thin golden leaves as a display of wealth. 15th-century alchemists used gold as medicine. Edible gold-coated sweet foods are served at lunch ‘to maintain a healthy heart’. The Elizabeths created a banquet of luxury by sprinkling gold dust on oranges, grapes, pomegranates, dates and figs. In the 16th century Dukes and Italian Earls were used to decorate their risotto with edible gold leaves. In Japan, edible gold has been added to food (and sake) for centuries.
In what form can you find it?
Edible gold sheets, flakes or sprinkles can be found in gourmet shops. Because of the light feathers, they are used in sweet and savory foods or floated in drinks. In Japan you can buy coffee and other drinks where ‘gold leaf’ (about 100 millimeters) floats on the surface carrying messages such as “Happy Birthday”, “Be My Valentine”, etc.
Gold adds an impressive touch to chocolate, soup, sushi and a number of other foods. High-quality food producers have successfully marketed edible gold in the following forms:
- Popcorn wrapped in gold
- Marmalade with gold particles
- Mottled chocolate with gold leaf
- Caviar and gold-studded oysters
- Chicken dishes topped with gold leaf
- Soup containing gold-plated quail eggs
- Sprinkled on cakes, cookies, nougat and petit fours
- Drinks contain spots with small particles of gold leaf suspended in a liquid
How safe is that?
Pure gold is an inert metal. It is not absorbed into the bloodstream and passes through the body because there are no chemicals in the human digestive system that can break it down. It does not appear to react with anything and is not affected by moisture, oxygen and ordinary acids. Edible gold out of the body after about 24 hours does not change. In general, there seems to be no danger in ingesting pure gold and in fact food coloring is permitted with its own e-number. One reason why dentists use it for fillings, caps, crowns, etc., is because it is biologically inert.
Though consuming gold has long been considered to have health benefits. New age experts claim that eating gold increases mental capacity and helps regenerate less organs. A recently published brochure for new champagne countries “is currently recommended for nerve weakness, disorder and against fear and frustration”.
How much does it cost?
A hotel in the Middle East reportedly served 11 pounds of edible gold for guests in 2008 – worth $ 500,000. Then there’s $ 1,000 bagels with white truffle cream cheese and gold leaf, $ 25,000 chocolate sundae coated with whipped cream that is infused with 23 carat gold, etc. Edible gold is certainly the most expensive food product in the world and seems to be here to stay.