This article titled “The World’s Most Expensive Food review: ‘Escargot pearls’? The super-rich will eat anything if it’s pricey enough” was written by Sam Wollaston, for The Guardian on Friday 27th November 2015 07.30 UTC
Jori is having a dinner party. Not just any old dinner party; she’s celebrating her 17th wedding anniversary. The big one-seven. So she’s getting in a company called Bubble Food, apparently famous in celebrity and millionaire circles for their innovative use of technology, attention to detail and creative presentation. Bubble will offer 17 sensory moments throughout the evening.
Sounds perfect for Jori, who wants her party to be theatrical and experiential and talked about for a long time to come. Theatre and experience come at a price. But Jori’s dinner party is costing over £1,000. A head! This is The World’s Most Expensive Food (Channel 4).
I’m quite enjoying television’s current obsession with obscene wealth. It’s easier to justify than poverty porn, better to laugh upwards than down. The rich may as well amuse and entertain the rest of us, as well as themselves. We’re not talking old-school toffs living in squalor in their crumbly castles. TV has done plenty of that (again I’m a fan). But now it’s all about the new super-wealthy in London and their play areas.
Take these Russians, trying out the latest fad at a tasting: escargot pearls. “Or snails’ eggs to the rest of us,” says narrator Tracy-Ann Oberman, who seems to be enjoying the absurdity of it all. You could give these people anything, tell them it was fashionable, and they would eat it, if it was expensive enough. Wasp semen, anyone?
Also good value are the people who are making a living catering for these billionaires; metaphorically wake-boarding behind their superyachts. See Sophie and Mike with their back garden snail farm in Aylesbury. Interesting sex lives they have – the snails, I don’t know about Sophie and Mike. They fire darts from their heads to arouse their partners, before marathon 12-hour lovemaking sessions. They are hermaphrodites, so then they both lay eggs, from their heads. Kind of Eric Bristow meets Erica Bristow meets Sting’n’Trudie meets The Alien then. Kind of.
Then there’s Ifor, who farms Japanese Wagyu cattle … in Powys, north Wales. Ifor gives his cows beer to drink, and massages them. It improves the marbling on the beef, apparently, as well as making it the most expensive beef in the world – up to £250 a kilo. “My wife does get a bit jealous sometimes, yes,” says Ifor with a twinkle, rubbing a cow’s haunches. “But she’s next.” A nice pint and a massage coming up, for Mrs Humphreys.
Some of Ifor’s cows probably end up on the Côte d’Azur, where a man named Simon – who seems pretty posh himself – makes a living supplying very posh nosh to very posh yachts. Simon’s company is called Penum, which is Latin for victuals and the act of provisioning prior to departure; also ablative for penis, according to Simon’s scholarly father, but it was too late, they had done all the branding when he pointed this out. I don’t think many of the people on superyachts in the south of France are familiar with the ablative case.
It’s not just posh nosh that Penis (as they will now have to be known) supplies. They do unposh food – Marmite, and also loo paper, because, as Simon says, “Everyone’s got to wipe their arse.” As well as making a handsome living from them, Simon has a healthy, sardonic disrespect for the vulgarity of some of his clients’ tastes. “This is Jay Z and Beyoncé’s house champagne,” he says, holding up an all-gold bottle of Armand de Brignac embossed with an Ace of Spades symbol. “What’s so lovely about this is that the branding’s so understated, isn’t it? Not at all tacky is it, hahaha.”
In the harbour at Monaco, antipodean Patrick, chef on a superyacht, is openly contemptuous of the people who pay him. “So many times you’d like to go out there, to the clients, and slap ’em and say, ‘wake up, you know, look what you’re doing,’” he says. It’s probably a good thing Patrick is about to jump ship to go and rejoin the real world. “These will just be gone,” he says, sending out some strawberry canapes to the party. “Like feeding strawberries to pigs.”
There’s further pigginess back at Jori’s grand-a-head anniversary tea. Guests are given a box of leaves and bark as well as a set of headphones. They listen to oinks and snorts as they snuffle around in the box, searching out ham and truffle croquettes. And they love it, it’s genius, haha, how they laugh. It is perfect. I think Jori’s party will be talked about for years to come.
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