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Jun 12, 2008 11:20 AM

Foods: once common, but now luxury

I need to pull together a list of foods that were once common and affordable and are now considered a luxury. For example: Wild caught salmon would be an exact fit, where lobster really isn't. I know, I know. Lobster was once considered peasant food, but hey, not in my lifetime. So, any suggestions on what would fit on this list?

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  1. Far from a luxury, but chicken wings were once a through away item that are now often priced higher than breasts.

    1 Reply
    1. re: TonyO

      My mother remembers that up until the 70s butchers would give her wings for free because no one would buy them.

    2. portabello mushrooms used to be tossed by mushroom farmers as useless and unsellable, but are now one of the more expensive "common" mushrooms.

      1. Short ribs. My mom used to make them because it was a cheap cut. Short ribs are not inexpensive any longer.

        12 Replies
        1. re: melly

          Add skirt steak, flank steak, veal breast and lamb/veal shanks to your list along with sweetbreads.

          1. re: Sherri

            What's annoying is that while these "cheap" cuts are getting increasingly expensive, the old "expensive" cuts aren't going down in price.

            1. re: jgg13

              Add oxtails to the list.
              At least where I live, they are more expensive than short ribs, running about 15 bucks for a 1 and 1/2 lb pack. Incredible for what was a throw-away cut.

              1. re: jgg13

                True, but nothing is going down in price my friend. :(

                1. re: Chew on That

                  Except gas-guzzling autos! (Does the word guzzling keep this a chowish comment?)

            2. re: melly

              Just wondering...what is "cheap" to you? I can find meaty, absolutely lovely short ribs for (usually) $2.99 per pound...what are you paying for them, if I may ask, in your area?

                1. re: Val

                  for four short ribs..about 2 inches long each, the price was 6.99

                  1. re: Val

                    Here they cost about $11.88 per kilo. That's almost $6.00 a pound.

                    1. re: Val

                      Short ribs are a lot more than $2.99/lb in my local grocery store. I'd say they're usually closer to $8.99/lb. In fact, all the previously "cheap" cuts of meat sell for around that at my local Shop-Rite. Veal shanks are usually around $10/lb.

                      1. re: flourgirl

                        A local grocery, Intermarché, that often has good prices on food basics, has short beef ribs on sale this week at 3,49lb/7,69kg (Canadian $ obviously). I've never made them, but have found a recipe to do them in my crockpot. This is in Montréal, where we get more bits and odd ends.

                  2. In the 50's, my dad, who was in the navy, used to buy a full plate of spare ribs and rice for 25 cents at various ports. According to him, sailors loved this stuff, as it gave them extra money to spend on the, ahem, liquid portion of their diet.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: KevinB

                      back before the turn of the century (the 20th not the 21st), when sturgeons were plentiful, caviar was so abundant in the US that bars would put huge bowls of it out as free bar snacks, since it was salty and therfore made people thirsty (same idea as peanuts or pretzels)

                      As for the wild salmon, the story I always remeber is that, in Scotland salmon was once so abundant that a standard clause in tenant leases and servant contracts specifically forbid the laird from feeding it to them more than three times a week, lest a cheap and greedy laird feed his dependants only on this "peasant fare"

                      As for modern days you can add (sonewaht controversionally) practically any of the varios foods placed in the catergory of "bushmeat", "bush tucker" etc. Ostrich, Alligator, Emu, Antelope, kangaroo, buffalo, varios forms of insect etc. were long consider food fit only for "dumb savages", now any of them will command a premium in many resturants.

                    2. From the Wikipedia article on eels: "Elvers were once eaten by fishermen as a cheap dish, but environmental changes have led to increased rarity of the fish. They are now considered a delicacy and are priced at up to £700 per kg in the United Kingdom." Same deal in Spain, where people now mostly eat fake "angulas" made of surimi.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                        We net Elvers by full moon here in Maine. By the way in Norwegian, elver means river.

                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                          And a 4.5 ounce tin of real angulas is 50 bucks.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              Future update: banned altogether?

                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                Available sporadically from ,small inventories of them. I expect quantities sufficient to export will soon be history.