The price of gold is currently hovering around a record US$1400/oz, leaving the sensible investor with, as I count them, three options:
- Buy it.
- Run from it.
- Eat it.
Per the last option, I direct my readers to the Shang Palace Restaurant at the Shangri-la Hotel in Ningbo, China where, per chef’s instructions I suppose, shrimp dumplings are served with a light garnishment of 24k gold leaf.
Now, I may be a rube, but I’m no simpleton, and so I’m well-aware that edible gold leaf has been used to decorate desserts and cocktails for years, now. But adding gold leaf to dumplings strikes me as something a little different. Desserts and cocktails, after all, are already luxury edibles, whereas dumplings – shrimp or not – are staples of sorts. Seven floors down and around the corner from my Shanghai apartment dumplings like those above (minus the gold leaf) are available for RMB 20 (US$3) for 12 (given, pricey by China standards). In American terms we’re talking the relative equivalent of sprinkling a mushroom cheeseburger with 24k gold leaf (though I guess it wouldn’t surprise me if somebody was doing that before the housing bubble burst). [UPDATE! In fact, they were: in comment six, below, my friend Karen McGrane points me to proof that at least one New York chef was serving a mushroom cheeseburger sprinkled with gold leaf around the time of the housing crash.]
If I were an Old Testament prophet, a Calvinist, or a New York Times columnist (“when the revolution comes …”), I’d have more to say about this. But I’m not, so I’ll end this post by pointing to a delightful 2005 Q&A regarding edible gold that ran in the Washington Post. Worth a read.
[End note: I was a guest at the meal at which those dumplings were served, and didn't have a chance to learn their cost. Still, I must admit, the commodities reporter in me was tempted to scrape the gold off mine, and into an envelope, in anticipation of US$1500/oz.]