I was watching Mario Batali on Iron Chef America, and he decorated one of his dishes with little gold (the metal itself, not merely the color) specks from sheets of gold leaf/foil. It looked like an interesting way to plate a special dish, and I was curious how much food-safe sheets cost and where I can get them?
There are lots of sources for edible gold leaf. Here's just one of many I found by searching under that phrase:
But it's my understanding that *all* gold leaf is edible. Rose Levy Beranbaum recommends buying it in a sign-painting or art store. And I suspect it might cost less at a shop like that than at a fancy confectioners mail order source.
It's my understanding that not all gold leaf sold in art stores is all gold, so yes, you should make sure it's 23 karat and marked as edible since some are made with mixed metals. I would think there might be a difference in how they handle it in the manufacturing process as well.
That's what I'd think, too. I use gold leaf for calligraphy but so many art supplies are toxic and you don't know how it's been handled/manufactured. FWIW, though, it came up in a calligraphy workshop and a couple of people ate it and were fine. You don't eat a huge amount of it and it's not on a regular basis so if it did have arsenic or something, it probably wouldn't be enough to matter. I agree w/ RicRios on why anyone would want to eat it. I guess it's the reason food dye is so popular--purely aesthetic.
If you'd like to *drink* gold too, there are some liqueurs containing the real stuff, for festive occcasions.
Goldwasser is flavored with herbs & citrus. (Silberwasser also available.)
Goldschlager, a cinnamon schnapps, from Switzerland.
Kiwi Gold, New Zealand, melon and peach. There are probably others, I just know these three.
Though pure gold is not poisonous, it isn't food-- you get no nutrition from it. It just comes and goes!
I think it is used in very elegant Persian cuisine, reserved only for dishes made to honor special occasions or guests.
I remember references to it during the '70s when Ardeshir Zahedi served as the Iranian Ambassador to the US and entertained extravagantly at his residence in Washington. Huge vats of caviar at parties to which invitations were highly coveted. That all ended with the Revolution in '79 in which the Shah was overthrown.
I believe that one of the dishes involves a presentation coating a roasted chicken completely in gold.
La Cuisine, an excellent cookware/baking specialty shop in Alexandria, VA, carries silver and gold dragées, dust and flakes. Not sheets of leaf of either. The last time I bought some, I seem to remember that they were labeled "Not for consumption" but we ignored that of course.
I've lately seen some fine chocolates dusted with gold leaf.
I just found gold leaf from my favorite art supply store. I have never used much of it, and I think the package I have it about 5 years old. I tend to use edible gold paint, as it is much cheaper and easier to apply.
P.S. Egads,I would use it very carefully at that price!