Mexican chef creates $25,000 taco — but no takers yet

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This undated handout photo released by Grand Velas Los Cabos Resort on March 7, 2017 shows the most expensive “taco” in the world in Los Cabos, Baja California, Mexico. The taco, which is prepared by the resort’s chef with corn tortilla, golden flakes, shrimps, Kobe meat, Beluga caviar, black truffle, Brie cheese and a special hot sauce, costs 25.000 US dollars. (AFP)
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This undated handout photo released by Grand Velas Los Cabos Resort on March 7, 2017 shows the most expensive “taco” in the world in Los Cabos, Baja California, Mexico. The taco, which is prepared by the resort’s chef with corn tortilla, golden flakes, shrimps, Kobe meat, Beluga caviar, black truffle, Brie cheese and a special hot sauce, costs 25.000 US dollars. (AFP)
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This undated handout photo released by Grand Velas Los Cabos Resort on March 7, 2017 shows the most expensive “taco” in the world in Los Cabos, Baja California, Mexico. The taco, which is prepared by the resort’s chef with corn tortilla, golden flakes, shrimps, Kobe meat, Beluga caviar, black truffle, Brie cheese and a special hot sauce, costs 25.000 US dollars. (AFP)
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This undated handout photo released by Grand Velas Los Cabos Resort on March 7, 2017 shows the most expensive “taco” in the world in Los Cabos, Baja California, Mexico. The taco, which is prepared by the resort’s chef with corn tortilla, golden flakes, shrimps, Kobe meat, Beluga caviar, black truffle, Brie cheese and a special hot sauce, costs 25.000 US dollars. (AFP)
Updated 09 March 2017

Mexican chef creates $25,000 taco — but no takers yet

MEXICO CITY: Shrimp, caviar, truffle and gold flakes aren’t standard ingredients in Mexico’s popular tacos. But chef Juan Licerio Alcala uses them to create the world’s most expensive taco at $25,000.
No one has ordered one. Yet.
The handheld dish made of a corn or wheat tortilla folded around a filling is low-cost fare in Mexico.
Licerio, the chef at the Grand Velas Los Cabos Resort, a luxury vacation destination in Baja California, told AFP he decided to think outside the box.
“People are excited and a little surprised about how you can eat a taco for $25,000 (497,000 pesos) when you can find one on the street for 10 pesos,” he said.
“Then I explain the delicacy, the technique and the harmony that they will lift from the plate, and that it’s worth it.”
To make the over-the-top dish, the chef takes a corn tortilla speckled with 24 carat gold flakes and fills it with Kobe beef, shrimp, Almas Beluga caviar and black truffle Brie cheese.
The taco is dressed with a salsa based on Morita chiles and civet coffee, a pricey liquid made from the fermented droppings of a civet which has eaten the berries of a coffee plant.
For good measure, gold flakes are sprinkled on top.
A week after the outrageously pricey dish hit the menu, no one has ordered it, the chef admitted.
But he said many have shown interest, mostly US customers who like to “push the boundaries.”
Ordering the world’s most expensive taco has its own particular method. First, a customer has to put down a $12,500 deposit and already be staying in the presidential suite.
The dish is presented in the middle of the desert encircled by motorcycles, or during a marriage proposal.
“We can adjust to the guest,” Licerio said.
If money is no object, the chef has just the tipple to complement the taco: the luxury tequila Pasion Azteca, at $150,000 a bottle.


High on ease, low on nutrition: instant-noodle diet harms Asian kids

Updated 15 October 2019

High on ease, low on nutrition: instant-noodle diet harms Asian kids

  • In the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, an average of 40 percent of children aged five and below are malnourished
  • Indonesia is the world’s second-biggest consumer of instant noodles, behind China

MANILA: A diet heavy on cheap, modern food like instant noodles that fills bellies but lacks key nutrients has left millions of children unhealthily thin or overweight in southeast Asia, experts say.
The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have booming economies and rising standards of living, yet many working parents do not have the time, money or awareness to steer clear of food hurting their kids.
In those three nations, an average of 40 percent of children aged five and below are malnourished, higher than the global average of one-in-three, according to a report out Tuesday from UNICEF, the UN children’s agency.
“Parents believe that filling their children’s stomach is the most important thing. They don’t really think about an adequate intake of protein, calcium or fiber,” Hasbullah Thabrany, a public health expert in Indonesia, said.
UNICEF said the harm done to children is both a symptom of past deprivation and a predictor of future poverty, while iron deficiency impairs a child’s ability to learn and raises a woman’s risk of death during or shortly after childbirth.
To give some sense of scale to the problem, Indonesia had 24.4 million children under five last year, while the Philippines had 11 million and Malaysia 2.6 million, UNICEF data show.
Mueni Mutunga, UNICEF Asia nutrition specialist, traced the trend back to families ditching traditional diets for affordable, accessible and easy-to-prepare “modern” meals.
“Noodles are easy. Noodles are cheap. Noodles are quick and an easy substitute for what should have been a balanced diet,” she said.
The noodles, which cost as little as 23 US cents a packet in Manila, are low on essential nutrients and micronutrients like iron and are also protein-deficient while having high fat and salt content, Mutunga added.
Indonesia was the world’s second-biggest consumer of instant noodles, behind China, with 12.5 billion servings in 2018, according to the World Instant Noodles Association.
The figure is more than the total consumed by India and Japan put together.
Nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, fish and meat are disappearing from diets as the rural population moves to the cities in search of jobs, the UNICEF report said.
Though the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia are all considered middle-income countries by World Bank measures, tens of millions of their people struggle to make enough money to live.
“Poverty is the key issue,” said T. Jayabalan, a public health expert in Malaysia, adding that households where both parents work need quickly made meals.
Low-income households in Malaysia depend largely on ready-made noodles, sweet potatoes and soya-based products as their major meals, he said.
Sugar-rich biscuits, beverages and fast food also pose problems in these countries, according to experts.
Rolling back the influence instant noodles have on the daily lives, and health, of people in southeast Asia will likely require government intervention, they said.
“Promotion and advertising is extremely aggressive,” said Thabrany, the Indonesian public health expert.
“There is massive distribution. They (instant noodles) are available everywhere, even in the most remote places.”