A civet cat brews up some coffee for the discerning customer.
A civet cat brews up some coffee for the discerning customer. Photo AAP

Posh nosh for billionaire Brits a bit hard to watch

A $52,000 tin of caviar, $2000 in-flight meals, and $706 for a single cup of civet poo coffee - and you thought buying all-organic was steep.

Over a couple of episodes recently, I have watched gobsmacked as billionaire Brits parted with obscene sums of money for posh nosh on World's Most Expensive Food.

I thought of the show again this week when speaking with Wil Anderson, host of the TV show Gruen, which if you're not familiar with is an exploration of the impact of advertising and marketing in society.

So what was it that these people were really buying?

Rare delicacies, sure, and the bragging rights of being about to afford it.

But it wasn't just that they were being sold status, which undoubtedly they were to an extent, because some of these buyers were already way past needing just that.

It's as if, with money no object whatsoever, stuff had ceased to have any real quantifiable value and what they really wanted to buy was just a good story to go with their meal.

Some of them would certainly provide quite the dinner table conversation starters.

There's the guy who claimed the superior taste of his special smoked salmon was due to the fact that he sang the blues and played a damp-looking piano to the fillets as they cured, and charged accordingly.

And my personal favourite, talk of crazy-expensive ice cream made using ice sourced from a melting glacier in Africa - the mind boggles.

The Twitter also runneth over with objections at the vulgar displays of conspicuous consumerism.

To be fair I enjoyed a spot of recreational outrage myself while watching it but I also couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for them.

Like placating a fussy toddler with a fairy tale, at some points I almost expected the private caviar dealer to start making the aeroplane noise as she handed a spoonful of her best beluga to hesitant rich people trying to come to grips with the acquired taste and the fact that when it came down to it, they were just eating some fancy fish eggs.

You just couldn't make this stuff up - or maybe you could.

Forget the absurd cost of it all, watching these people eat the culinary equivalent of the Emperor's New Clothes - priceless.

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