Last night, celebrities descended on the Metropolitan Museum of Art like a flock of poreless, wasp-waisted locusts. The occasion: the Met Gala, also sometimes informally known as “Fashion Prom,” the “party of the year,” or the “Oscars of the East Coast.” While there, they ate radishes pickled in saffron off plates covered in edible gold, but we’ll get back to that.
First, for the uninitiated, here’s the Met Gala in a nutshell. At its core, it’s an annual fundraiser benefiting the museum’s Costume Institute, which is dedicated to the preservation and curation of “five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes… from the fifteenth century to the present.” In other words, the Costume Institute rightly treats fashion as an art form, and organizes one or two exhibitions of its collection (some 35,000 pieces strong) annually. One of those exhibitions always serves as the theme for the Gala, which also marks the exhibit’s grand opening. Recent themes have included Punk: Chaos To Couture (2013), China: Through The Looking Glass (2015), and Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art Of The In-Between (2017). Reflecting the theme in one’s sartorial selections is often celebrated, but not required. The event, the creation and curation of which was captured in the 2016 documentary The First Monday In May, always occurs on the first Monday in May; per the New York Times, one ticket will set you back $30,000, while a table costs $275,000.
Short version: famous people; fancy, often unusual fashion; good cause; tons of press. There’s also food. The clothes are great. The food sounds both tasty and foolish.
This year’s collection, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion And The Catholic Imagination, includes a number of pieces on loan from the Sistine Chapel sacristy. As such, the menu used both Roman cuisine and, well, displays of inconceivable wealth and power as its inspiration. Here’s how Executive Chef Jenny Glasgow described it to Vogue:
“Roman cuisine, while delicious, tends to be very rustic, simple, and not terribly colorful, featuring lots of offal and other brown foods and not using many luxury ingredients… So by overlaying the Heavenly Bodies theme on the Roman inspiration we were able to come up with our menu of elevated takes.”
By ‘elevated,’ she means crazy expensive. Here, a partial list of the items munched on (or not) by attendees:
- Lobster served on a sheet of radish, pickled in saffron brine so it would look like gold.
- The lobster itself was“dressed in a golden emulsion of lemon, acacia honey, and extra virgin olive oil.” Gold!
- The plate for that dish? Garnished with “edible 23 carat gold flake.” Emphasis ours.
- Baby lamp chops with mint and almost pesto, sans gold.
- Branzino with lemon caper brown butter, also not gold.
- Chocolate-dipped cape gooseberries, refreshingly un-golden.
- Truffles, dusted with gold, gold, gooooooooold.
For today’s fun, please feel free to imagine Frances McDormand somehow getting a bite of lobster from her gold-covered plate to her face, without getting any saffron brine on her face-flowers.
The goooold truffles weren’t the final course, however. As attendees left, they were invited to snag an espresso and a high-fashion take on the Drumstick: an amaretto semifreddo confection that’s not gold, except oh shit, it totally is. Each one was topped with what Vogue described as a “golden pearl.”
We at The Takeout are, in the words of Kate Bernot, anti-“expensive stuff that doesn’t taste like anything,” so edible gold gets a hard, hard pass from us. That said, inventive fashion is always pretty cool. If you’re interested in reading more about the non-edible portion of the Met Gala, we highly recommend the coverage over at TomandLorenzo.com, where the commentary is heavy on both knowledge and jokes, and light on both bullshit and meaningless displays of edible finery.