I recently did a short piece over on Art Attack about the $630 Jil Sander leather lunch bag. The gist of the story was that German designer Jil Sander recently sent two designer lunch sacks down the runway with her men's Fall/Winter 2012 collection: a $630 leather version, and an "affordable" $290 paper version. Even I, as a rabid fashion fan and notorious overspender for luxury items, found that kind of outrageous.
I place a high value on fashion-as-art, and I don't have a problem paying more for a premium product, but something about this story pushed me past the point of amusement. As I wrote in the Art Attack piece: "Maybe it's because brown-bagging it to school is such a cherished memory for me -- my dad packed my lunches my entire life, even through high school."
I kept thinking about this story for days, and eventually I started to wonder...what does one carry in a $630 lunch bag? It's gotta be better than peanut butter and jelly on white bread with the crusts off, so I compiled a list of five things expensive enough to tote around in a lunch bag that costs as much as a car payment. I also included an Ironic Hipster Alternative, for those who wish to snub the establishment by pulling inexpensive items out of their obnoxiously priced lunch bag.
Precious, salted eggs of fish -- and so portable! Online retailer eCrater is selling six ounces of Beluga caviar ("classic caviar") for $1,680, and promises it will be the "most glamorous topping in the world."
I have to admit, I have only indulged in a nibble or two of caviar over the years and neither time was I particularly impressed -- that said, you can't reach into a designer leather lunch sack and pull out grocery-store sushi! I love picturing a group of businessmen sitting around in Jil Sander suits, with Jil Sander lunch sacks, eating caviar on little toasts. Of course, caviar has to be refrigerated, and I'm not sure that's good for the leather.
Ironic Hipster Alternative: Sardines.
4. Matsutake Mushrooms
I found the matsutake mushrooms while searching the Internet for expensive foodstuffs with which to stuff my Jil Sander lunch sack. Prices for this rare 'shroom will set you back a lot more than the regular Phish-show variety -- $1,000 to $2,000 per pound. Apparently, insects are to blame for killing the trees under which these mushrooms grow, hence the hefty price tag.
The mushroom is a lowly little fungus, however, so if you pull these out of your Jil Sander lunch bag, you may need to inform those around you that these are some expensive treats. Like, "Wow, my $1,000-a-pound mushrooms look beautiful on this salad!" or something similar.
Ironic Hipster Alternative: Cherry tomatoes.
3. Buddha Jumps Over the Wall
A $190 bowl of soup, served at the Kai Mayfair restaurant in London, BJOW contains ingredients like shark fin, abalone, sea cucumbers, scallops and a Japanese flower mushroom, among other pricey floaters. Guinness World Records says you have to order the soup five days in advance, and for $190 I hope they'll let you take it to go.
Ironic Hipster Alternative: Ramen Cup-O-Soup
2. 666 Douche Burger
I wasn't going to include a burger on this list -- kind of messy for a leather lunch bag -- but I couldn't resist the name of this one. Served at New York food truck 666 Burger, the sandwich features Kobe beef stuffed with foie gras and GOLD LEAF and then smothered in premium ingredients like caviar, lobster and truffles -- not to mention "Gruyère cheese melted with champagne steam." I mean, what?!
Only one has been ordered, but I'm starting a 666 Douche Burger dream jar.
Ironic Hipster Alternative: Classic Big Mac
1. Yubari Melon
The most surprising of the expensive foods I came across were the melons -- there are a shocking number of high-end melons in this world. [Insert plastic surgery joke here.] The Yubari melons factor on many of the "most expensive foods" lists online, averaging around $12,000 apiece.
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This sounds like a tough trade in the lunchroom -- a Little Debbie snack cake for your melon? Not quite.
Ironic Hipster Alternative: Good, old-fashioned watermelon. But tuck this juicy summer treat into a resealable Ziploc to prevent leakage on the leather.