This article was inspired by the episode “Food Is Art. So Why Do People Treat It Differently?” from The Dave Chang Show.
In this episode, Dave loudly wonders why people are paying thousands of dollars for paintings, limited edition sneakers, and concert tickets… but no one is willing to pay for expensive dishes. Again, he said dishes and not meals. According to this article, the current most expensive restaurant in the world is Sublimotion in Ibiza, Spain. It costs USD $2,380 for a 20-course tasting menu. So on average, each dish would cost around $119.
He goes on to give examples of painters, such as David Choe, whose paintings have ranged from USD $199 to USD $32,760. They recall Choe as saying his paintings deserve to be more expensive. Unsurprisingly, his paintings sold faster when he made them more expensive. Aside from that, according to this list, the world’s most expensive sneakers cost $2M. Taylor Swift concert tickets, which very quickly sold out, cost from $49 to $449; But ended up going for as much as $2,200 due to resellers.
Paraphrasing what Dave said, I think we can all agree that paintings, apparel, music, and food are considered art. Granted that not all food is art, as most exists to provide sustenance and comfort, while a small portion takes food to the level of art. If this is the case, why is it that the media and journalists celebrate the extravagant prices of these luxuries, yet they bitch about restaurants with high prices?
It’s mentioned in the episode that these voices will scream elitism. I get that highly expensive food is also a luxury. But why treat it differently from other luxuries? It’s not like the celebration of more expensive dishes in restaurants for the elite will cause the global increase of food prices. Do these media voices not see the difference between food for sustenance and food for art? Or will they just take any opportunity to make noise for their own agenda?
Dave is not saying we should increase the prices of food for everyone. He’s just saying that food should be more expensive at the most elite restaurants. If most of their customers can afford thousands of dollars worth of concert tickets, sneakers, and paintings, they should be able to afford dishes in the same price range. Yet, no restaurant exists with dishes as expensive as this, because restaurateurs know the type of criticism they well get for doing so, thus showing that society devalues food. Not that we need it, but if this doesn’t change, no one will be able to raise food to a new level.
But Dave forgot to mention that there are dishes priced at thousands of dollars. One example would be a couple of Salt Bae’s restaurants. Just look at the prices of Salt Bae’s new restaurant at Las Vegas’ The Strip and his London steakhouse. Golden wagyu striploin that can cost from $650 to $2700 and Golden Giant Tomahawk steak for £1,450 & Golden Giant Striploin for £1,350 respectively.
With this being Malt, alcohol has to be weaved in. So, another thing Dave forgot to mention is that people are also willing to spend a lot on alcohol. This is not a knock on him or alcohol. I’m well aware that alcohol sales contribute to a huge chunk of a restaurant’s profits. Also, based on the shows he’s been in (such as Ugly Delicious and Mind of a Chef) he’s never struck me as someone who is savvy with alcohol. Still, as a restaurateur who is friends with chefs from Michelin restaurants, I hoped that he would have pointed out how the elite don’t mind buying bottles of wine and whisky that go for thousands of dollars. Just check this 10 most expensive wines list, which mentions prices ranging from $12,824 to $41,368. Then check this list of 25 most expensive whiskies. The lowest ranked cost $47,136 while the highest ranked cost $927,706.
The examples above of food seemingly being devalued might be to the extremes. But keep in mind that Dave’s examples are for the elite. For the most part, I agree with Dave that food is seemingly constantly being devalued. Stepping away from his views, I see his point elsewhere. If you want more proof, just look at how farmers – the people responsible for growing our food – are constantly being devalued.
I also see this in every class of society. Locally, I’d see people in the streets settle for the cheapest food as long as they can drink their favorite brand of beer or spirit. Among the middle and upper class, I’m aware of local groups of whisky drinkers who would rather meet up and eat at decently priced restaurants while drinking their expensive bottles of wine or whisky. These don’t apply to everyone, but this is my way of agreeing with Dave.
This makes me wonder if this devaluing of food is something hard-wired into our genes, or is it more of a deep-rooted issue in society. With all this extravagance being shared in social media, is the need for validation and attention that much stronger than the urge to eat good food?
I’ve heard of cases wherein new whisky collectors would be irresponsible with their money. They’d buy an expensive bottle they can’t afford so they wouldn’t be able to pay for all of their necessities. Influencers will pretend or even think that a well-plated dish or a premium bottle of whisky is really good just because it’s presentable, and they’re possibly getting paid to promote it. It seems like being illogical is a huge part of being human, thus making it obvious to me that this issue has been around for a long time but has only been made more obvious by social media.
What brand of whisky represents the elite (of absurdity) and lack of logic better than Macallan? The ridiculousness of the demand for their contemporarily mediocre at best – yet stupidly priced – products is something I cannot truly fathom.
Just look at this Macallan Aera. This NAS expression, aged in seasoned “sherry” casks, was originally released for the Taiwan market in 2018. I also heard this was made for the clubs there. Thankfully it seems like the Taiwanese kept their wits about them and didn’t go gaga for this, because a lot of bottles became available outside of Taiwan (I was given a bottle as a gift). A lot of bottles are also still available today. I guess this brings a new meaning to them being the strongest single malt market in Asia.
Macallan Aera – Review
On the nose: The first whiff I get reminds me of the Glendronach 12. Then I get mild aromas of sulfur mixed with mild and soft aromas of apricot jam, fresh peaches, and Fuji apples. There are light aromas of honey, toffee, honeydew melons and cereals. After about five minutes, the sulfur notes end up dominating the dram.
In the mouth: A mixed mess of sulfur and an unrecognizable assortment of fruits with a peppery texture. There might be some dried apricots, kiwi, sapodilla and honey in there. Despite the ABV, it ends up being hot. Because I nosed this for 5 minutes before I took a sip, I wondered if I could taste this better if I poured a new glass. Also, after five minutes of nosing, the sulfur aromas intensified.
There’s less sulfur. But everything seems muted. I get light and short tastes of dried apricots, peaches, sapodilla, toffee, nuts, and honey. There’s a tinge of honeydew melon at the end.
As our scoring bands state, this is flawed. At its current state, I’d have given it a 4 if it were cheaper. But if this didn’t have the aggressive sulfur notes and if it were cheaper, I’d give this a 5.
There is just nothing exciting about this expression, unless buying this for someone at a club could get them excited and let you score. I guess I’m just immune to the “charms” of Macallan.
If I imagined this without the sulfur notes and stupid price, this would be a perfectly good entry level single malt. But with the price and sulfur, it’s just a mess of a light profile single malt. The flavors don’t last long. It’s hot for the 40% ABV.