There will always be competitions in all aspects of life to be better, bigger, higher, lower, cheaper, fatter, skinnier, and on and on. What would you nominate for inclusion in the list of World Record Foods? I’m just an average Joe with limited knowledge when it comes to rare foods with astronomical prices. Essentially, learning about what makes up world records in the culinary world — and why — was just a reminder that school is never out. My mother was right when she said one is never too old to learn.
Here are some interesting bits about food records, beyond the fact that they found their way into the Guinness World Records. Note that by the time you read this, some may no longer be the current records. However, it does not reduce the fascination.
White Truffles holds not only one record but two
White truffles are almost exclusively found in a specific region of Italy. They grow for only a few months each year. Some people refer to an Alba or Piedmont Truffle. White truffle is a type of mushroom that grows entirely under the ground. The roots of some hardwood trees like chestnut, hornbeam, oak and hazelnut have a symbiotic interdependence with the truffles. It is around the roots of those trees where a specific breed of pigs forages to find them.
The record: White truffles are one of the rarest foods globally, and therefore also the most expensive. A white truffle weighing 2.6 pounds or 1.2 Kilograms costs around $111.000 or 95,000 Euros.
Hot, hotter, hottest world record of chilies
I find it difficult to understand why people cultivate hotter and hotter chilies or peppers. Essentially, by my thinking, there is undoubtedly a limit to the heat people can enjoy. In 2007, the Ghost Chili cultivated by New Mexico State University took first prize for the world’s hottest chili.
However, in 2017, the Carolina Reaper, grown in a South Carolina greenhouse, took over. A description of the taste of this pepper is sweet and fruity for about one second. Immediately after that, it becomes molten lava.
The Carolina Reaper lost the top spot in 2018 when the Dragon’s Breath chili took over. The University of Nottingham in the U.K. was involved in the development of this record-breaking fireball. Most importantly, it was not cultivated to eat because it could cause severe burns, anaphylactic shock and even death. The developers say they grew it for medical use. How? The Dragon’s Breath chilies can serve as topical numbing anesthetics for people with allergies to regular anesthetics.
Record-breaking stinky cheese
The most pungent cheese in the world is Vieux Boulogne, according to U.K researchers at Cranfield University. Apparently, the pungent smell and the rind’s rich orange color result from the aging process. During the two-month process, cheese makers brush the skin of the cheese with beer. Essentially, the cow’s milk enzymes and their interaction with the beer-coated rind produce the indescribable whiff.
Descriptions of the smell vary. Some compare the smell to rotting leaves, mushrooms and wet earth. However, those with less sophisticated noses say the smell does not remind one of the cow’s udder but rather its behind. Most importantly, those brave enough to ignore the smell and take a bite say a pleasantly mellow and smooth cheese hides beneath the pungent rind.
Coffee beans gathered from the civet poop
I bet you have heard of Kopi Luwak, the most expensive, rarest coffee in the world. In Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, and in East Timor, coffee farmers had problems with civets, a rare wild cat, eating the coffee berries from the plantations. The cats would eat the fruity part of the berries and swallow the pips (coffee beans) in the process. The coffee farmers were not happy with the losses. Consequently, they began collecting the undigested, fermented beans from the feces of the wild Asian palm civets.
Sadly, where there is money to be made, abuse is rampant. Large-scale, intensive farming took over the traditional process. In contrast to the old way, modern Kopi Luwak production involves battery cages holding palm civets. Furthermore, they force-feed the animals with total disregard of the ethical side of their pursuit of profits. The civets live in complete isolation in their tiny cages. They get no exercise, and their poor diet contributes to the high mortality rate.