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15 of the World’s Most Expensive Foods

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If you ever find yourself in a Brewster’s Millions situation and have to burn through a fortune in a hurry, then all you need are this article, a few plane tickets and an empty stomach. (It never hurts to plan for the unexpected.) So just in case, here are 15 meals that can help you wipe out your bank account in no time.

1, 2 & 3. The Most Expensive Burgers

Where You Can Find It: Serendipity 3, New York

Price: $295

What Makes It So Expensive: Le Burger Extravagant is made with white truffle butter-infused Japanese Wagyu beef, topped with James Montgomery cheddar cheese, black truffles and a fried quail egg. It’s served on a gold-dusted roll spread with white truffle butter and topped with a blini, crème fraiche and caviar. If that weren’t enough to excuse the price, it also comes with a solid-gold, diamond-encrusted toothpick.

There’s Competition Though: While they may not be recognized by Guinness, New York food truck 666 Burger offers the $666 Douche Burger that features a Kobe beef patty stuffed with foie gras and gold-leaf, covered in caviar, lobster, truffles, Gruyere cheese melted with champagne steam and BBQ sauce made with Kopi Luwak coffee. While the burger was a satire of La Burger Extravagant, it is actually available for sale, but as of yet, only one person has actually ordered it.

There’s also the FleurBurger 5000, from Vegas restaurant Fleur that features a Wagyu beef and foie gras patty with truffle sauce and shaved black truffles. Your order for this $5,000 burger also includes a bottle of $2,500 wine, Chateau Petrus, so really, you’re not just paying for the burger -- but still, the $2,500 burger might be the world’s most expensive, even if it’s not official yet.

4. The Most Expensive Dessert

Where You Can Find It: Serendipity 3 (Yes, the same place as the most expensive burger)

Price: $25,000

What Makes It So Expensive: The Frrrozen Haute Chocolate ice cream sundae contains a blend of 28 cocoas, including 14 of the most expensive in the world. It is decorated with edible gold and served in a goblet lined with edible gold. As if all that weren’t enough, there is an 18 karat gold bracelet with 1 carat of diamonds in the bottom of the sundae, and the treat is served with a golden spoon decorated in white and chocolate diamonds, both of which go home with the diner.

5. The Most Expensive Curry

Where You Can Find It: Bombay Brasserie, London

Price: $3,200

What Makes It So Expensive: The Samundari Khazana (meaning “seafood treasure”) contains Devon crab, white truffle, Beluga caviar, gold leaf, a Scottish lobster coated in gold, four abalones and four quail eggs.

6. The Most Expensive Pie

Where You Can Find It: The Fence Gate Inn, Lancashire

Price: $14,260, or $1,781 per slice

What Makes It So Expensive: This meat pie contains $870 worth of Wagyu beef fillet, Chinese matsutake mushrooms (that cost around $400 a pound), winter black truffles, and French bluefoot mushrooms (they go for around $160 a pound). Two bottles of vintage 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine are used in the gravy (another $1,740 per bottle) and the crust is covered in edible gold leaf.

7. The Most Expensive Frittata

Where You Can Find It: Norma’s, New York

Price: $1,000

What Makes It So Expensive: The Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata contains 10 ounces of sevruga caviar, one pound of lobster, six eggs, cream and chives. While that might not sound that impressive, consider the fact that the restaurant has to pay $65 per ounce for that particular caviar.

8. The Most Expensive Bagel

Where You Can Find It: Westin Hotel, New York

Price: $1,000

What Makes It So Expensive: Executive Chef Frank Tujague topped the most expensive bagel with white truffle cream cheese and goji berry-infused Riesling jelly and gold leaf. At least a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Les Amis d’Escoffier Scholarship, which benefits current and future culinary students.

9. The Most Expensive Pizza

Where You Can Find It: Margo’s Pizzeria, Malta

Price: $2,400

What Makes It So Expensive: Up to 100 grams of white truffles and gold leaf. Orders must be placed one week in advance and, on the bright side, the chain gives all the money from this particular pie away to charity.

11. The Most Expensive Hot Dog

Where You Can Find It: Capitol Dawg, Sacramento

Price: $145.49

What Makes It So Expensive: The California Capitol City Dawg is a ¾ pound, 18” all-beef frank with French mustard, garlic and herb mayo, sautéed shallots, mixed baby greens, applewood smoked uncured bacon, Swedish moose cheese (which costs $200 a pound), tomato, dried cranberries, pepper and a basil olive oil/cranberry-pear-coconut balsamic vinaigrette. It is then served in an herb focaccia roll toasted in white truffle butter.

12. The Most Expensive Ramen

Where You Can Find It: Fujimaki Gekijyo, Tokyo

Price: $110 per bowl

What Makes It So Expensive: This isn’t the ramen you snacked on during your college days. Owner/chef Shoichi Fujimaki opens the doors to his menu-less, reservation-only restaurant to those who have already dined at one of his other restaurants. Once you get access to the restaurant, you will be served the Five-Taste Blend Imperial Noodles made with over twenty ingredients and two different soup stocks.

13. The Most Expensive Soup

Where You Can Find It: Kai Mayfair, London

Price: $190 per bowl

What Makes It So Expensive: The Buddha Jumps Over the Wall contains shark’s fin, abalone, Japanese flower mushroom, sea cucumber, dried scallops, chicken, huan ham, pork and ginseng. Orders must be placed five days in advance so the chef can source all the ingredients.

14. The Most Expensive Sushi

Where You Can Find It: Request it From Filipino Chef Angelito Araneta Jr.

Price: $1,978.15 for five pieces

What Makes It So Expensive: Well, each piece of sushi is wrapped in gold leaf and topped with caviar, three Mikimoto pearls and served with a diamond. No word on what fish was actually used on the inside of the sushi rolls, but I’m kind of hoping it’s imitation crab.

15. The Most Expensive Ham

Where You Can Find It: The Food Hall in Sefridges, London

Price: $2,682 for a 15 pound ham (about $180 a pound)

What Makes It So Expensive: The Albarragena Jamon Iberico de Bellota is made from pigs that were only fed acorns and roots to give them a distinctive flavor. The ham is then cured for three years before being put in a handmade wooden box with an apron handmade by a Spanish tailor. And just so you know what you’re getting, each ham comes with its own DNA certificate confirming its authenticity.

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Big Questions
Why Does Asparagus Make Your Pee Smell Funny?
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The asparagus has a long and storied history. It was mentioned in the myths and the scholarly writings of ancient Greece, and its cultivation was the subject of a detailed lesson in Cato the Elder's treatise, On Agriculture. But it wasn't until the turn of the 18th century that discussion of the link between asparagus and odorous urine emerged. In 1731, John Arbuthnot, physician to Queen Anne, noted in a book about food that asparagus "affects the urine with a foetid smell ... and therefore have been suspected by some physicians as not friendly to the kidneys." Benjamin Franklin also noticed that eating asparagus "shall give our urine a disagreeable odor."

Since then, there has been debate over what is responsible for the stinky pee phenomenon. Polish chemist and doctor Marceli Nencki identified a compound called methanethiol as the cause in 1891, after a study that involved four men eating about three and a half pounds of asparagus apiece. In 1975, Robert H. White, a chemist at the University of California at San Diego, used gas chromatography to pin down several compounds known as S-methyl thioesters as the culprits. Other researchers have blamed various "sulfur-containing compounds" and, simply, "metabolites."

More recently, a study demonstrated that asparagusic acid taken orally by subjects known to produce stinky asparagus pee produced odorous urine, which contained the same volatile compounds found in their asparagus-induced odorous urine. Other subjects, who normally didn't experience asparagus-induced odorous urine, likewise were spared stinky pee after taking asparagusic acid.

The researchers concluded that asparagusic acid and its derivatives are the precursors of urinary odor (compared, in different scientific papers, to the smell of "rotten cabbage," "boiling cabbage" and "vegetable soup"). The various compounds that contribute to the distinct smell—and were sometimes blamed as the sole cause in the past—are metabolized from asparagusic acid.

Exactly how these compounds are produced as we digest asparagus remains unclear, so let's turn to an equally compelling, but more answerable question:

WHY DOESN'T ASPARAGUS MAKE YOUR PEE SMELL FUNNY?

Remember when I said that some people don't produce stinky asparagus pee? Several studies have shown that only some of us experience stinky pee (ranging from 20 to 40 percent of the subjects taking part in the study, depending on which paper you read), while the majority have never had the pleasure.

For a while, the world was divided into those whose pee stank after eating asparagus and those whose didn't. Then in 1980, a study complicated matters: Subjects whose pee stank sniffed the urine of subjects whose pee didn't. Guess what? The pee stank. It turns out we're not only divided by the ability to produce odorous asparagus pee, but the ability to smell it.

An anosmia—an inability to perceive a smell—keeps certain people from smelling the compounds that make up even the most offensive asparagus pee, and like the stinky pee non-producers, they're in the majority.

Producing and perceiving asparagus pee don't go hand-in-hand, either. The 1980 study found that some people who don't produce stinky pee could detect the rotten cabbage smell in another person's urine. On the flip side, some stink producers aren't able to pick up the scent in their own urine or the urine of others.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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15 Rich Facts About Fudge
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You probably know the basics about this decadent dessert: It's rich, it's creamy, and it comes in a variety of mouth-watering flavors. (Red velvet cake batter fudge? Yes please!) But there is plenty more fun trivia to digest. In honor of National Fudge Day, we’re serving up the sweetest morsels.

1. WHEN THE DESSERT WAS INVENTED, IT CHANGED THE PREVIOUS MEANING OF FUDGE.

In the late 17th century, fudge was a verb meaning "to fit together or adjust [clumsily]." Then around 1800, the word was used to mean a hoax or cheat. By mid-century, the use of the term “Oh, fudge!” as a kid-friendly expletive had come into favor, and was often used when something had been messed up. It’s believed that the first batch of fudge was created when someone was trying to make caramels and “fudged” up. The name stuck.

2. IT HAS STRONG TIES TO BALTIMORE.

The earliest origin story for fudge dates back to 1921, when Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, a former Vassar student, wrote a letter describing her introduction to the treat. She claims that while attending classes in 1886, a classmate's cousin living in Baltimore made the dessert, and this was her first knowledge of it. She also mentions a grocery store, probably in Baltimore, that sold fudge for 40 cents a pound.

3. THE TREAT BECAME WILDLY POPULAR AT VASSAR.

Two years after discovering fudge, Battersby Hartridge got ahold of the recipe and made 30 pounds of it for the Vassar Senior Auction. In Vassar, The Alumnae/i Quarterly, they claim the sweet became so favored that “students would make it in the middle of the night, dangerously diverting the gas from their lamps for the task.”

4. STILL, IT TOOK A WHILE FOR COMPANIES TO MASS-PRODUCE IT.

Skuse’s Complete Confectioner was known as a guide for all things dessert—but the first editions of the book, printed in the late 1800s, didn’t include any recipes for fudge. In later editions, they made up for lost time, including recipes for rainbow fudge (food colorings), Mexican fudge (raisins, nuts, and coconut), maple fudge, and three types of chocolate fudge.

5. AMERICANS MAY HAVE STOLEN THE CONCEPT FROM THE SCOTS.

Fudge is thought to be a descendent of tablet—a medium-hard confection from Scotland. The two treats use similar ingredients, but fudge is richer, softer, and slightly less grainy than its European cousin.

6. THERE'S A WORLD RECORD FOR THE LARGEST SLAB.

The 5760-pound behemoth was crafted at the Northwest Fudge Factory in Ontario, Canada in 2010. It reportedly took a full week to make, and while ingredients aren't available for this record, the previous record holder contained 705 pounds of butter, 2800 pounds of chocolate, and 305 gallons of condensed milk.

7. MAKING FUDGE TAKES SOME SCIENCE.

Early fudge recipes were prone to disaster, with one 1902 magazine explaining "fudge is one of the most difficult confections to make properly." With candy thermometers not becoming commonplace for several years, most recipes required boiling and hoping for the best. Eventually more foolproof recipes were created that included corn syrup (which helps prevent the crystallization that can result in a gritty texture) and condensed milk or marshmallow crème.

8. IT'S NOT ALL THAT DIFFERENT THAN FONDANT.

Fudge is actually a drier version of fondant—not the stiff, malleable kind so often seen on cake decorating shows, but the kind found in candies like peppermint patties and cherry cordials. 

9. A TINY ISLAND IN MICHIGAN CONSIDERS ITSELF THE FUDGE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD.

There are upwards of a dozen fudge shops on 4.35-square mile Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. (Permanent population on the tourist destination: just shy of 500, per the 2010 census.) The oldest candy shop on the island, Murdick’s Candy Kitchen, opened in 1887, while May's Candy claims to be the oldest fudge shop.

10. MACKINAC ISLAND CRANKS OUT OVER 10,000 POUNDS OF FUDGE DAILY DURING PEAK SEASON.

For production, fudge makers ship in about 10 tons of sugar each week and roughly 10 tons of butter each year. Every August, the island hosts the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, complete with events like Fudge on the Rocks, where local bartenders craft fudge-y libations.

11. FIRST LADY MAMIE EISENHOWER WAS A HUGE FUDGE FAN.

She even crafted her own recipe—named Mamie’s Million-Dollar Fudge—which her husband, Ike, quite liked. It included chopped nuts and marshmallow crème.

12. THE HOT FUDGE SUNDAE WAS CREATED IN HOLLYWOOD.

C.C. Brown’s, an iconic ice cream parlor on Hollywood Boulevard, was credited for dreaming up the idea to drizzle melted fudge over ice cream in 1906 (earlier sundaes had other syrups, like cherry). Sadly, the shop closed in 1996, but the treat remains popular.

13. THE BRITS HAD A SWEET NAME FOR FUDGE.

A description of fudge, found in the 1920 tome Harmsworth’s Household Encyclopedia, read, “A sweetmeat that hails from America, but is now popular in other countries.” (To be fair, in the UK the term "sweetmeat” is applied to a variety of sweet treats.)

14. AT ONE POINT, YOU COULD BUY A LIFETIME SUPPLY OF FUDGE.

Harry Ryba, known as the fudge king of Mackinac Island, once offered to mail out a lifetime supply of the candy—three pounds a month—to any customer willing to pay $2250 upfront. “A lifetime, being yours or mine, whichever ends sooner,” he said, per The New York Times. Not a bad deal, considering he passed away at age 88.

15. FUDGE CAN KEEP FOR A LONG TIME.

Airtight packages of the confection can be frozen and stored up to a year without losing any flavor, which means that you can feel free to give in to temptation and buy a larger chunk while on vacation this year. And about that lifetime supply…

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