November 09, 2007

As Much as I Like Fungi, a $1000 Bagel is a Bit Much

I think it would be hard to find someone more enthused about fungi than I am, and I'm an avid consumer as well as a student of this kingdom. I eat wild mushrooms every chance I get... but even I have my limits! For example, I absolutely refuse to pay $20 per pound for oyster mushrooms from the supermarket. That's simply never going to happen.

Even less likely to happen is my forking over $1000 for a bagel spread with truffle-infused cream cheese (and decorated with edible gold leaf):

It's schmearly $1G for this bagel with fungus on top

...Tujague, the executive chef at the Westin Hotel, has concocted a $1,000 bagel topping: Alba white truffle cream cheese.

The truffle - essentially a mushroom-related fungus that grows underground (go figure) - is in season and costs $4,000 a pound...

Production of the white truffle, prized for its delicate aroma, is limited to the Alba region of Italy...

And to make the point that this is one decadent schmear, he topped off his creation with edible gold leaves...
Heck, I can get myself a perfectly good bagel, pick a few wild fungi and have myself a rip-snortin' fine breakfast without feeling like I'm missing out on anything. Does anybody need to eat gold leaf? It's not like you can digest the stuff. It goes in one end and comes out the other completely unchanged.

Anybody willing to spend $1000 on a bagel needs to seriously stop and think for a moment about better things they could do with that money, like maybe shoving it up their nose and running naked down the street shouting, "Hey! Look at me! I have $1000 stuffed up my nose!"

Well, maybe that's equally stupid. But $1000 could theoretically pay for things that somebody else really needs, and if you're willing to spend it on a bagel, whether truffles and gold leaf are involved or not, you should be willing to spend it on something from which you derive only slightly less direct personal benefit. That much money could buy a lot of dental work for poor people needing root canals. Alternatively, you could pass it along to some impoverished mycology grad student to help defray the cost of some much-needed custom-made primers with which to clone a few fungal genes. Just a thought.

Who knows... maybe our hypothetical (ahem) graduate researcher could figure out a way to make Alba truffles grow just anywhere. Then you could pay $2.50 for your bagels like everybody else does.

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