For hundreds of years some cultures have coveted gold not only for its shine and its purity but also for its meaning in their diet; the symbolic act of ingesting a precious metal.
Back in ancient Egypt bread was made in a conical shape containing powdered gold which was given an important religious meaning.
In Hebrew culture, a type of bread called manna was mentioned in documents such as the Bible, appearing as the legacy from the Egyptians to the people of Israel. History tells that manna was once made by a blacksmith, following Moses' instructions. The bread was made with gold shredded in a mortar and reduced to a powder.
More proof of consuming bread containing gold appears in the Talmud which states that when Alexander Magnus arrived in Jerusalem he visited a hamlet who welcomed him with bread containing flakes of gold.
This metal was coveted everywhere, but even more so in the Far East where, as well as money, it was also used for medicine and food, by sprinkling the shiny metal over their meals. It was also believed that if you wore it on your skin it gave you youth and sexual potency.
Both in China and in India there was a famous substance called soma, elixir of life, chi or prana, which was said to be made using gold and was thought to have magical properties. It seems that this product was also a type of bread or biscuit.
Many Taoist monks also sacrificed all their energy trying to manufacture edible gold with the aim of attaining immortality and a Chinese alchemist wrote a document on an immortality pill made with gold dust, which helped old people to rejuvenate.
Medieval and Renaissance banquets were characterised for being sumptuous and so gold was an obvious ingredient among so much ostentation, decorating sculptures made of marzipan and being used in an extensive variety of desserts.
One of the most eye-catching banquets of the time was given by Benedetto Salutati to Fernando I of Naples in 1476, which served a cake made of condensed milk and pine nuts sprinkled with flakes of gold.
In the modern age, gold has not been abandoned by gastronomic arts. On the contrary, the metal which symbolises power and wealth has jined the world of serious haute cuisine. The best chefs in the world use edible gold to decorate their most exquisite and select dishes.