Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My piece of edible gold

Almost one year ago, a friend of mine who's always having an amazing variety of drinks available, showed me a nice bottle with golden pieces inside. When asked what the bottle contains, he was surprised that I never heard about Goldwasser. Honestly, I had no idea what it is, but realized that the shiny little pieces may be gold. No curious to have a taste, though.

A couple of months after this discussion, a friend of mine told me her experience of being offered the pleasure of a chocolate cake on a sheet of gold. As a decent and modest person, she refused to eat the gold. The gold, a domain that I used to work as a PR executive years ago, was haunting me, but in a very sweet and interesting way. Honestly, I did never approach aspects related to the edible side of gold and now I was feeling that I missed something.

Recently, while changing airplanes, I had a look at a local duty free shop and I saw that not only Goldwasser is using pieces of gold, but also some vodka producers decided that it is fancy to have some glittering inside.

A little bit of history

Using gold in the cuisine is not a discovery of the 21st century. In many circumstances - that I will not develop here by lack of medical skills - it was used for healing purposes first by the alchemists in the 15th century, at the time due to the frequent association of gold with 'magical' powers. 

For instance, in the 16th century, the Italian nobles used the golden leaves for their risotto decorations. In the sophisticated Elizabethan times, many of the fruits served regularly were covered in golden leaves. 

Danzig Goldwasser was around from the end of the 16th century, and Peter the Great or Catherine the Great were familiar with it. The wars and various partitions of Europe did not diminish the interest for this special drink and after the Cold War, the distilleries moved from Danzig/Gdansk to Berlin and further to West Germany where the golden water is still produced. The Goldwasser tastes anice, black licorice, cinnamon and citrus and can be used in combinations with vodka and martini.

On the other end of the world, in Japan, some producers had the idea to add some gold in the bottles of the traditional sake.

Is the gold leaf delicious?

As I never had the pleasure to taste an entire leaf, I cannot tell it. What I was told is that by using it the food - especially cakes and choco truffles, but also some fruits (apples, almonds, pears or any other fruit that your imagination can think about) -, and the drinks are looking better and appealing, mostly the cocktails. 

The edible gold is 22-24k; less carats mean more impurities and thus, more dangers for the health. The pieces of the gold sheet are not absorbed by the body. A high quality leaf is very delicate, and should be used with a lot of art. The leaves can be bought from various distributors, but also from amazon.com. It is important that before you buy, you do some basic research about the credibility of the company and the guarantee certificate it has. You can purchase it in flakes or sheets, but also in small golden buttons used for the regular decorations of the birthday cakes. 

The prices are not very high, with a minimal investment of 20$ in a 50x50 gold leaflets. 

Bon Appetit!

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