A delicacy is a food considered highly desirable due to its unique taste and rarity. Every culture has a different delicacy, ranging from commonly found but peculiar foods such as raw oysters, to very rare foods such as flamingo tongue (a highly prized dish in ancient Rome). Some examples of culture-specific delicacies include: beondaegi in Korea (steamed silkworm pupae), fugu in Japan (blowfish, very poisonous if not prepared correctly), bird’s nest soup in China (made out of swiftlet nests which are made of various fish) and escamoles in Mexico (ant larvae). In the Western hemisphere, three foods have classically been called the “three great delicacies”. These are: foie gras, truffle and caviar.
Foie gras is French for “fatty liver” and it is the liver of a goose that has been fattened up. Because of the rich fat content, foie gras is extremely smooth, buttery and delicate and is highly sought after in gourmet cooking. However, there is much controversy around the preparation of the dish. To fatten the liver, geese are tied up and force-fed large amounts of feed via a funnel and tube. This method is known as “gavage”. Because the geese are held still and force-fed so much food, there is a risk of the oesophagus rupturing and killing the geese. But this death could almost be considered merciful given the horrendous gavage process that can only be considered as torturous.
Truffle is a type of mushroom that lives underground. It is difficult to find and cultivate, making it a rare and valuable ingredient. In fact, it is considered “diamond of the earth” because of that reason. Truffles come in black truffles and white truffles. Black truffles are more commonly used in French dishes, along with simple-tasting foods such as soup and veal. It is also eaten alongside foie gras sometimes. The white version is more common in Italian foods. It is eaten raw and grated over a dish or salad.
Caviar is a Russian delicacy consisting of salted sturgeon roe (fish egg). It is considered one of the most luxurious foods on the planet, with some connoisseurs describing it as the culinary equivalent of an orgasm. Because the roe is not cooked, it retains its unique fishy taste which might make it unpalatable at first. But then people become hooked on the unique, addictive taste that cannot be copied. The price of $8000~16000 per kilogram shows just how much people are willing to pay for the ultimate taste.