There are some delicacies that many people eschew because of their cost. And certainly if you look at the cost/weight of certain foods and compare them to others, they easily appear to be outrageously expensive and very poor value-for-money. For example, one can buy a top quality Fillet Mignon for about $40/kg (about $18/lb). Compare this to a piece of tuna bottarga (dried, salted tuna roe) at $800/kg, or a white truffle at about $2000/lb, and you may well exclaim, “You’re outta your mind!” with some apparent justification.
But consider this. One ounce (app. 30g) of tuna bottarga grated onto pasta will easily bring both satisfaction and a beatific smile to the faces of four people with relative ease. That translates to $24, or $6 per person. The same value of Fillet Mignon would leave two people craving for more and two with nothing on their plates! Truffles are not too far off that mark either. My point is that some of the greatest culinary experiences need not be prohibitive if taken in the context of how much is needed to produce great pleasure and satisfaction.
Of course, from a nutritional standpoint, these delicacies are definitely not great value for money…the steak will provide lots more protein and other essential nutrients (a lot of extra fat too though). And one doesn’t need to eat Fillet Mignon either…the same money will buy quantities of lean pork to feed a small army at current low prices.
But for occasional forays into wonderful culinary experiences, one needs to keep the cost/volume relationship in mind…it may just enable some of the most pleasurable (food) moments you will ever have.
Tonight’s dinner was simplicity itself. Spaghettini with a grating of tuna bottarga, tossed in a mixture of hot olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes. A salad of endive, radicchio, walnuts, and shaved Reggiano, tossed with some olive oil and Greek Musto Balsamic vinegar completed a very satisfying, healthful, and inexpensive meal (about $10/person).
Echoing my wife’s food philosophy: “Eat better…eat less”.