The Money Issue

Published in Gourmet Live 04.11.12
A tax-time look at expensive ingredients, hidden restaurant charges, an ancient edible currency, and more

The annual reckoning is upon us, making dollars top of mind for many. To enliven a season only an accountant could love, Gourmet Live’s Money Issue is looking at the bright and shiny side of things: Specifically, we’re exploring the intersection of funds and foods, from the most precious ingredient nearly a thousand years ago to today’s high prices for Spain’s hottest ham.

If you have a tax refund coming your way, perhaps you’ll splurge on some of that jamón Ibérico de bellota—or another of the delicacies Elizabeth Gunnison spotlights in a slideshow of the world’s most expensive foodstuffs (she also reveals why their stickers are so shocking). Readers feeling particularly flush might be in the market for what Ted Loos calls a “transformative” tipple, like the ’89 Chateau Haut-Brion. Wine expert Loos surveys the world of four-figure bottles, including some high-profile recent forgeries.

At pennies an ounce, salt is on the other end of the price range. Nine centuries ago, however, this simplest of seasonings was prized by traders; in the deserts of northern Africa, where it was mined, it was risky business yet an essential ingredient for survival. Paula Froelich crossed centuries and continents to retrace the ancient salt route of Mali this winter (before the military coup and subsequent conflicts), and she shares the history along with her firsthand observations.

If you’re like us, you’ll agree that fair pricing and sound values are always in season, so don’t miss a roundup of 10 hidden charges to watch out for when dining out or grabbing food to go. Read on for our latest Road Trip collaboration with BlogHer: This time we’re visiting Miami and lots of local joints. We’ll steer you to budget-friendly holes-in-the-wall in Little Havana and worth-it spots for romance or a view. The issue closes with a recipe that’ll have you rolling in dough: homemade New York Pretzels, the salty stadium favorite and iconic street snack.

What foods are worth a splurge, in your book? And what strategies help you save on food funds? Share your perspective via Twitter or Facebook, drop us a line (, or post a comment on our blog. For more tasty bites, sign up for our weekly newsletter to get convenient access to our most-read blog posts, editors’ favorite recipes, and exclusive reader offers.

Wishing you good fortune and great food,

The editors of Gourmet Live

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