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What is edible gold, exactly? A ritzy ingredient for expensive tastes

What is edible gold, exactly? A ritzy ingredient for expensive tastes
Diners have used edible gold for centuries to add glamour to their dishes and commune with the gods. Here's how to cook with the ultimate decadent food
The history of edible gold goes back a long way. Ancient Egyptians both ate gold, viewing it as a sacred food that attracted the favour of gods, and offered it to their gods. Native Americans also believed that eating gold brought them closer to their gods.
In ancient Japan, gold flecks were added to special bottles of sake and sprinkled on revered foods—wisdom has it that the custom derived from tea ceremonies.
During the Middle Ages, there are mentions of edible gold being used throughout Europe by lords keen to show off their wealth.
One example is an extravagant banquet of one lord of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, in 1386 celebrating the wedding of his daughter Violante. He served guests gold-covered partridges, sturgeons, carp, ducks and quails.
"Native Americans believed that eating gold brought them closer to their gods"
Gold-covered bread and oysters were also served in 1561 in Venice for a feast honouring the Prince of Bisignano, and Queen Elizabeth I had an array of fruit, from pomegranates and oranges to figs and dates, sprinkled with gold powder at dinner times.
There is even mention of a Venetian habit of nuns from the Convent of Santa Maria Celeste who kneaded bussolai biscuits with edible gold.
From the 15th century there is evidence that alchemists attested the benefits of eating gold for medicinal reasons to cure various ailments. In Milan, they even covered pills with gold to disguise the taste, giving rise to the term "gilding the pill", which later became in "sugaring the pill".
It is Gualtiero Marchesi who is credited with spreading awareness of edible gold in culinary dishes when in 1981 he invented his famous saffron risotto with gold leaf, kickstarting its use by Michelin chefs and adventurous home cooks worldwide.
Ancient Egyptians viewed edible gold as a sacred food that won them favour from the gods

What is edible gold made of?

Edible gold is pure 24 karat gold—nothing else. The leaf is made by melting pure gold at over 1,094 degrees Celsius in an ingot and poured into a gold bar mould.
The bar is then stretched incredibly thinly as it is passed through rollers and pressed until it reaches around a 0001 millimeter thickness.
It is virtually transparent and as light as a feather. It is sold as edible gold leaf, flakes, crumbs and powder.

Are there any health benefits to eating edible gold?

To date, no definite health benefits are associated with eating your way through gold. Pure gold is biologically inert and therefore passes through the digestive system without being absorbed into your body, though you’d have to be lucky to see it out the other end, as it were—usually it is so fine, it would be masked.
There are, however, some beliefs that eating edible gold in the form of gold salts, for example, can treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Other claims include that eating gold can stimulate hair growth (as it increases blood circulation to the scalp), improve brain function, relieve stress and boost the immune response to oxidative stress.
Tests have even been carried out to discover edible gold's benefits for fertility, however further research needs to be done. On all counts, even if there are no benefits, it is deemed safe to eat and contains no allergens.

Food and drink to pair edible gold with

Edible gold can be used to dress up more unassuming foods, like burgers
Edible gold adds a bit of bling to everything, from cocktails, cakes and ice cream sundaes to jellies and canapes.
An easy way to make your homemade chocolate truffles truly stand out is to roll them directly in gold leaf. Chefs often elevate foods by foiling them entirely in gold leaf, such as doughnuts, dumplings and sushi rolls.
"You can bring relatively inexpensive foods into the fast lane with flecks of gold"
You can even bring relatively inexpensive foods into the fast lane with flecks of gold, from burgers and noodles to pizza slices—raising the price tag too, of course.
For a seductive shimmer, sprinkle edible gold powder, often sold in a shaker, on your foods—for example, cupcakes or macarons to add a fairy tale finish. 
Gold leaf is also sometimes used to create iridescent reflections in liquors and expensive wines and champagnes.

Did you know?

When you are choosing your edible gold, it is advised to go for one that is not mixed with copper or other harmful impurities—pure 24 karat gold is the premium option—and buy from a reputable, certified company.
Edible gold has no taste. It is produced in such thin layers—one tenth of a micron—that whilst the colour adds interest, no flavour is added.
"A chocolate, caviar, peach, orange and gold pudding sold for £22,000"
While it is best to store edible gold in a cool and dry place, it has an endless shelf life.
Some of the most expensive gold infused food items that have been created include:
  • The Lindeth Howe Pudding from the Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel in the Lake District, England, a chocolate, caviar, peach, orange and gold pudding which sold for £22,000
  • A taco of gold, langoustines, Kobe beef, Almas Beluga caviar and black truffle, which sold for $25,000 at The Grand Velas Los Cabos resort in Mexico
  • A Posh Pie at Lord Dudley Hotel, Sydney, with lobsters and high-end Australian beef cooked in two bottles of Penfold Grand Reserve, decorated with 24 karat gold leaf, which sold for $9,500AUD
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