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Snooty Haute Cuisine

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PHILADELPHIA—As the fifth plate of his 10-course, $150 prix fixe tasting menu dinner was carefully placed on the manicured table in front of him, Kohl-Strauss Media Group CEO Tom Byatt reportedly told a colleague Tuesday that in order for the company to stay afloat in this adverse economic climate, staff layoffs would likely be necessary.

Caviar, foie gras, and other such foods are notable for how expensive they are and for how rare it is to know how about these foods and, as such, buying them can serve as a status symbol. Whereas Poverty Food such as cans of pork and beans are meant to show how poor and lower-class a character is, Snooty Haute Cuisine is instead a symbol of a character's wealth and sophisticated palate.

A form of Conspicuous Consumption, it identifies a character as rich by showing them eating and able to comment in an eloquent fashion on these expensive and highbrow foods. In addition, consumers of Snooty Haute Cuisine will likely have high standards for their palate and shun "commoner" foods, insisting on only the highest-quality, most expensive, imported foods. They will react to a diner hamburger as if it were revolting Mystery Meat. The commoners, in turn, will often hold the opinion that Haute Cuisine Is Weird (frog legs, octopus legs, etc).

Caviar is the go-to example, and pricey wines and French cuisine are also frequent examples of this. A Fancy Dinner will always serve these. See High-Class Cannibal for an extreme and menacing version.

A subtrope of Food as Characterization. Compare Grapes of Luxury, which is also a trope about showing luxury but is more about a character being fed by servants while seated or lying in a comfortable cushioned dias, and Exotic Entree, which is about eating endangered species or cruelly-prepared meat to show a character's immorality. Also compare Expensive Glass of Crap.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Case Files of Jeweler Richard: Wealthy Blue Blood Richard adamantly refuses to drink any tea that comes in a bottle, claiming it has "died" and the soul is gone — which means making fresh tea from expensive leaves imported straight from Sri Lanka, every time. He also refuses to let Seigi buy sweets on sale, on the idea that buying sweets with an eye to price is less meaningful and is disrespectful to the people they will later be served to. Of course, he also frequently takes Seigi out to fancy dinners together — and then orders himself strawberry parfaits.
  • Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: In contrast to Hestia scraping by on potato croquettes, leftovers from her part-time jobs, and whatever food Bell buys with the money he earns from dungeon drops, Freya is always surrounded by luxuries. She's often depicted watching Bell with a glass of red wine in her hand, and as the leader of the most powerful familia in Orario, she's constantly lavished with food and drink. But while Hestia enjoys her Jagamaru-kuns and takes pride in her handiwork, Freya is bored with constantly having everything handed to her and much prefers to be challenged and surprised. This illustrates the vastly different perspectives of the two goddesses after Bell's heart.
  • Kill la Kill episode 7 does this to illustrate the Rags to Riches plot. The Mankanshoku family are initially content with eating strange Mystery Meat for meals, but when Ryuko and Mako rise up the ranks of Honnouji Academy, allowing them to gain more wealth, the family's living situation skyrockets. The family is now able to afford better-quality ingredients, and once they can live in a big fancy mansion, they can have massive feasts of splendor. Unfortunately, this is around the same time that the family begins drifting apart and turning into snobs due to their newfound decadence, leaving poor Ryuko to eat alone. By the time they decide to give it all up at the end so they can be together again, they show no issues going back to the Poverty Food.
  • Rebuild World:
    • Shiori takes Akira out to an absurdly expensive restaurant where she offers to pay for a full special course meal for him if it means letting bygones be bygones between them. Compared to the slops of Mystery Meat he grew up eating with his hands off the floor, this is Impossibly Delicious Food he eats with a knife and fork. This illustrates the gulf between the rich and poor in Kugamayama City, as well as the wealth of high-level hunters who get to eat at restaurants like these on the regular.
    • Reina's status as a wealthy heiress is perhaps best demonstrated when she's trapped in a building with her bodyguards with hordes of mechanical monsters outside. While holding out in a barricaded room, she decides to dip into her emergency rations... which are more or less still a restaurant-quality meal eaten off a plate with a knife and fork atop a folding table. Even while in a life-or-death situation, Reina still manages to dine in a manner befitting her station.
  • Tomie loves caviar and foie gras, often refusing to eat foods that aren't either and acting with revulsion toward them. In one chapter, however, when she gains a fan club who can afford it and feed it to her every day, she gets sick of it.

    Comic Books 
  • When Fantastic Four arch-villain Doctor Doom is shown dining, it is always an elegant meal with multiple dishes and goblets of wine, served on expense cutlery with his servants hovering in the background. If he's invited his enemies to dinner, expect it to get taken up to eleven.

    Films — Animated 
  • This trope is played straight in Ratatouille and showcases that French Cuisine Is Haughty.
    • While the restaurant Gustau's is shown to have lost a star (technically two), in the French rating system, a restaurant receiving even a single star is considered to be a shining example of haute cusine and the residents of Paris clearly flock to Gustau's because of its reputation for fine dining.
    • Anton Ego is the personification of the snobby eater who feels that only haute cuisine could come close to meeting the exacting standards of their palate. This is best demonstrated by Ego's taste for Chateau Cheval Blanc, an extremely expensive vintage.
    • Even the signature dish of ratatouille falls under this trope. While ratatouille is generally a simply-prepared, provincial, peasant dish, the version created in the film is a glorified haute cuisine version called confit byaldi that takes about four hours to prepare.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Jerk, Navin and Maria take advantage of their recently-gained wealth by eating at a posh French restaurant, but Navin winds up Comically Missing the Point throughout. He insists on drinking the newest wine the restaurant has, rather than the vintage bottle the waiter initially brings out — and he gets angry when Maria's order of escargot has snails all over the plate.
  • Parasite (2019): The Park family are Sheltered Aristocrats who keep expensive, premium-quality Hanwoo beef sirloin in the fridge but thoughtlessly mix it with instant noodles.
  • Trinity Is STILL My Name!: After Trinity scores a big win at poker, he and Bambino first get themselves fancy suits, then go to the local haute cuisine restaurant to eat. Hilarity Ensues as the rustic, barely literate brothers are confronted with table manners, tiny meal sizes, and snobbish restaurant staff and patrons.
  • The Menu is a harsh satire of fine dining culture and its customers. The antagonist is a Famed in Story celebrity chef who has grown increasingly disillusioned with his occupation and with serving complex dishes that turn into "shit in the guts" of the obnoxious patrons he needs the support of to keep his business afloat.
  • In Good Morning, Sleeping Lion 2, food truck owner Akane Yuzuki insists on serving haute cuisine in the beginning, and is dejected when her assistant Kujo's simple fare becomes a hit with the customers.

  • American Psycho: Keeping with the book's vicious parodying of the '80s upper-class yuppie lifestyle, Patrick Bateman repeatedly sings praises of the nouvelle cuisine that he and his colleagues eat to flaunt their wealth and social status. However, these dishes turn out to be fairly ridiculous (and in some cases outright inedible) when stripped of their glamour, indicating that Patrick and company only care about the fancy image that the food gives them.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, Damon Kronski acquires a slab of glacial ice that has the last specimens of an extinct species of fish frozen inside it, just so he can serve the fish to guests at a conference he's hosting for The Extinctionists.
  • Beware of Chicken: Maple syrup, previously unknown, has quickly become popular at high-end restaurants, which serve it by the thimble. So when the Lord Magistrate serves an entire cupful to each guest, it's a clear power play, flaunting not only wealth but a close connection to the supplier.
  • The Dark Side of the Sun: Played with. A wealthy man's meal, seemingly simple, consists of a quarter-loaf of brown bread, a strip of salted fish, an apple and a glass of water — each individually shipped to the planet at great expense from various parts of the galaxy to ensure that they're the best bread, fish, apple, and water that ludicrous amounts of money can buy.
  • Fifty Shades Darker has Ana and Christian attend a masquerade ball held by Christian's adoptive parents, and among the menu items served are salmon tartare, roast breast of Muscovy duck, foie gras, and wine. All this serves to show how wealthy the Grey family is, and is but one of many instances of Christian showing off his affluence.
  • Shadows of the Empire: Prince Xizor at one point has "moonglow" for lunch, a fruit that must be carefully prepared by a master chef to make it safe to eat (rather like fugu). Apparently it's delicious, but he mostly eats it for the thrill of danger; what if the chef made a mistake? The cost of it could have fed a family for a year, but that's nothing to him.
  • The Wheel of Time: As heir to the throne, not only is Elayne accustomed to the kind of food prepared by royal chefs but she can somehow make elaborate, finicky meals herself while traveling incognito. Nynaeve realizes that Elayne is simply making what she knows, not showing off.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Black Lightning (2018): In "The Book of Blood Chapter 1: Reqiuem", Tobias Whale offers Khalil caviar as a symbol of what wealth can bring. Khalil is less than impressed with the taste.
    Tobias: Like it or not, every successful person remembers two things in life: the first time they tried caviar, and the first time they could enjoy it without worrying what it cost.
  • The Signing Off Catchphrase for Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous is "wishing you champagne wishes and caviar dreams."
  • Invoked on the "high roller" episodes of Chopped and Guy's Grocery Games in that the contestants have to work with high end ingredients, but you can still end up with a plate full of crap because sometimes those ingredients won't work together or are mishandled.
  • On 30 Rock, Jack tries to impress his girlfriend by ordering a decadent dessert called "Lovers' Delight," which he describes as "Tahitian-vanilla-bean ice cream in a pool of cognac, drizzled in the world's most expensive chocolate, Amadei Porcelana, covered with shaved white, black, and clear truffles, and topped with edible 25-karat gold leaf."
  • In the Victorious episode "The Great Ping Pong Scam," the gang formed a ping-pong club just to get funds for a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant with the club's allotment of school money. Robbie samples a bit of caviar, not knowing what it is (or the price) and orders a small bowl of it, costing $600, and blowing the $1500 budget. Hijinks ensue.

    Video Games 
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: The Red Prince is introduced refusing a meal because he expects a twelve-course dinner befitting royalty... while he's incarcerated on a foreign prison ship. Fortunately for his companions, his Character Development makes him less of a Royal Brat.
  • Early in A Plague Tale: Innocence, Amicia can find a stash of cinnamon and says that if it's not hidden away her father will have it used in every dish. As this is France in the late Middle Ages, cinnamon is imported and incredibly expensive, basically only available to nobles like her and her family.
  • The Big Bad of Psychonauts 2, Gristol Malik, is an aristocrat in exile who loves caviar. Initially, he is content to live within the Lady Lucktopus hotel because they supply him with caviar, but in one memory, when he sees that they have run out, he decides right there to mastermind the plot to revive Maligula and conquer Grulovia, solely so he can re-attain his Idle Rich lifestyle and eat endless caviar.

    Web Original 
  • Miles Is A Robot: Manfred von Karma, Ace Attorney's monstrous upper-class prosecutor, offers this bit of info:
    "I've never eaten a cake before. All I eat is caviar and gravel!"
  • The Onion: This article features a CEO partaking in a $150 prix fixe tasting menu with entrees such as tuna tartare, foie gras, lobster broth, and artisanal bread, in addition to other displays of wealth. This serves to paint him as a Corrupt Corporate Executive as he talks about how he is being forced to fire some employees to cut costs at his company, and how hard the decision is for him (but not so hard that he would be willing to give up his haute cuisine).
  • SuperMarioLogan: Mr. Goodman often brings up eating expensive meals to show how ridiculously rich he is, and is offended when someone offers him "poor person food".

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: Archer's wealth and general crassness are both showcased in the decadent eggs his butler makes him. They're a labour-intensive Nutritional Nightmare that makes haphazard use of premium ingredients like pata negra ham, Kashmiri saffron, and caviar.
  • Carmen Sandiego: "To Steal or Not to Steal" has Carmen stealing rare caviar from a Ballroom Blitz for charity.
  • Futurama:
    • When everyone on Earth gets a tax return of 300 dollars, Dr. Zoidberg wants to try "rich people food", but it's less than impressed with caviar and foie gras.
      Zoidberg: Goose liver? Fish eggs? Where's the goose? Where's the fish?
      Elzar: Hey, that's what rich people eat; the garbage parts of the food.
    • In "A Fishful of Dollars", Fry becomes a multimillionaire thanks to an unintentional case of Compound-Interest Time Travel Gambit, buys the last can of anchovies in existence from an auction and serves them to his friends as a pizza topping. Played with in that, as much as it looks like this trope to everyone else, to him it ends up being a genuine attempt to do a good deed towards his friends by giving them a unique experience. Unfortunately, it's an experience that most of Fry's friends, with the exception of Fry himself and Zoidberg, don't really enjoy.

    Real Life 
  • Gold leaf, sometimes referred to as edible gold, is one of the most infamous examples of this trope. These incredibly thin sheets of gold were originally used for gilding metal surfaces but later found use as a shiny, expensive culinary decoration. Though it's typically used sparingly as a garnish, some chefs have taken to covering the entire dish in gold, such as the chicken pictured above from the Edible Gold Gallery. Keep in mind that while gold leaf is safe to consume as it is not absorbed by the human body in any way,note  that also means that the only thing it ends up doing is being defecated. A literal use of the term "flushing your money down the toilet".
  • Kopi luwak, AKA civet coffee, is a special form of coffee that has been dubbed "the rarest coffee in the world", fetching $600 dollars a pound. Its high price tag is due to the fact that its beans are derived from one type of coffee cherry tree, and the fact that in order to create the coffee, the fruit has to be eaten by civets that later poop out the beans, making it a semi-literal case of Solid Gold Poop. Unfortunately, this has led to civets being forced into factory farm conditions where they are force-fed the berries and abused.
  • Caviar (eggs of fish from the sturgeon family) has often been the image of Conspicuous Consumption, fetching $35,000 per kilogram. Many of those who've tried it say that it's not worth the price. Additionally, the demand for caviar has led to several species of sturgeon becoming critically endangered.
  • M'nuka honey (sometimes spelled as mānuka) is said to be richer in taste and healthier than conventional honey. The latter point has been disputed by scientists, who have found it to be no more beneficial than other types of honey. Despite this, it still fetches over $1,000 per kilogram, due to the fact that it comes from the nectar of a specific flower, Leptospermum scoparium, aka manuka myrtle.
  • The "Douche Burger", which was sold by the New York City food truck 666 Burger in 2012. Described by co-founder Franz Aliquo as "a fucking burger filled and topped with rich people's shit", at $666, it was christened the "world's most expensive burger". The burger itself was made out of a Kobe beef patty (wrapped in gold leaf), foie gras, caviar, lobster, truffles, imported aged gruyere cheese (melted with champagne steam!), kopi luwak barbecue sauce, and Himalayan rock salt. According to reports, very few of these burgers were sold and it was created primarily as a marketing ploy to create interest in the 666 Burger food truck.
  • Serendipity 3, a New York-based restaurant has a reputation for offering extremely expensive food that must be ordered in advance:
    • They debuted their "Haute Dog" on National Hot Dog Day 2010. It was a foot-long frank grilled in white truffle butter and garnished with black truffles and foie gras, and sold for $69 dollars.
    • They serve the most expensive sandwich in the world: the Quintessential Grilled Cheese. The bread is baked with Dom Perignon champagne and edible gold and then brushed with truffle oil and then the edges are crusted in more edible gold. The cheese is an extremely rare kind made from the milk of a cow breed consisting of only 25,000 individuals that also lactate only two months a year to boot. The sandwich is served with tomato bisque with lobster in it.
    • There's the Golden Opulence Sundae, which costs a whopping 1,000 dollars. The ice cream is Tahitian vanilla covered with a 23-karat gold leaf, the type of chocolate is one of the most expensive in the world, it comes with dessert caviar and fruits from Paris, has an artfully crafted sugar flower, and comes in a crystal goblet the buyer can keep.
    • There's the $200 Crème de la Crème Pommes Frites. The potatoes are blanched in champagne and then thrice fried in goose fat, topped with cheese filled with bits of truffle. And of course, more truffles as well as gold flakes are added. The dish comes on a crystal plate and with a dip made of dairy with even more truffle added.
    • There's the Le Burger Extravagant at $295. It consists of a Wagyu beef patty, truffle butter, black truffles, a quail egg, James Montgomery Cheddar Cheese, caviar, buns with gold flakes, and a gold toothpick with diamonds on top.
  • Santa Monica-based restaurant Melisse offers truffle-based dishes during truffle season, which runs from October through December. Among these dishes is a $95 truffle-infused macaroni and cheese dish.
  • In 1975, New York Times restaurant critic Craig Claiborne wrote about a $4000 (almost $22,000 in 2022 dollars), 31-course meal in Paris that he won at a charity auctionnote . Satirical journalist Russell Baker used this as a jumping point for his subsequent column "Francs and Beans", where he writes about scrounged leftovers in a high-handed tone.
  • This review from Geraldine DeRuiter of Bros., Lecce in Italy, which, despite the Michelin Stars and the appealing Trip Advisor pictures, serves very weird and haughty "dishes", which DeRuiter said was more like very expensive, very bizarre theater than actual dinner. It has to be seen to be believed.