At the dawn of mankind, even for Egyptian Pharaohs, the passion and fetish for gold knew no boundaries. It is even said that Cleopatra used to sleep with a pure gold face mask, of course, owing to her unearthly and bewitching beauty. From emperors to priests to the elites and upper-middle-class, those who held gold received a status symbol.
Chef Ishijyot Surri, Co-Founder & Executive Chef of Pachinco Café enlightens us, “Edible gold is the shiny element that we all love, but it is the one that looks gorgeous on a dish and can be eaten too. While previously it was a thing to be used only on the most extravagant European chocolates or the finest continental dishes, today edible gold has walked into becoming mainstream and can be used on diverse food preparations including Indian. Gold, because of its purity and affluence is highly regarded and so is edible gold in the food industry across the world.”
Starting the trend of consuming gold by the Egyptians, the now gastronomical world still bears the same enthusiasm of coating food with it. Corporate Chef Megha Agarwal of Auro Kitchen & Bar and Summerhouse Cafe tells us, “Edible gold is nothing but pure 24k gold. Either that, or it is a mix of pure gold and other non-toxic metals such as pure gold and pure silver hammered into thin sheets, flakes, gold dust and gold petals, and sold for consumption”.
However, there are people who are sceptical about the idea of consuming gold. But, is edible gold just a luxury indulgence or nutritious enough for the body? Nisha Bajaj, Nutritionist at Digestive Health Institute shares, “There is a psychological aspect to many consumers who believe something this valuable and rare must also turn out to be beneficial for health. Gold salts or dust are well-known for their use in rheumatoid arthritis treatment and similar applications. The gold can calm acne inflammation, reduce skin redness and protect against sun damage”. The benefits of edible gold are debatable. Consumption of gold should only be done in its purest form-23k or 24k as otherwise there are chances of other elements being present which can be harmful to the body.
In a world of growing counterfeit marketing, a substance of grandeur like edible gold can easily be imitated. Its authenticity always makes one raise a brow and needs to be constantly assured. Chef Anas Qureshi of Molecule Air Bar advises, “Always buy gold leaf from a trusted seller and a brand certified to manufacture gold leaf. Testing the authenticity of a piece of gold is a necessary step done by common methods such as acid, scratch testing and electronic gold testing”.
Edible gold is a current trend in luxury restaurants, with pastry chefs and chocolatiers. Even, some special champagne and wines can be found dotted with edible gold flakes. Chef Megha says, “It is mainly used for aesthetic purposes-metallic hint or gold dust on top of an Indian mithai for food theatrics. Gold leaf is commonly used to coat mini confectionary as well, such as bite-sized truffles. In savoury dishes too, it is used to garnish rich flavours, such as a saffron risotto or rich Indian curries”. Chef Ishijyot concludes, “Presentation plays a far-reaching role in the gourmet industry and this is where edible gold plays its part beautifully. It is also a big hit when added to our good old tea, giving it a premium look and feel. The idea is to elevate even the simplest of food preparations.”