Thursday, February 28, 2008

#2: Obscure and Expensive International Products

Rich People really like stuff that they can't buy in America. This gives them an excuse/ reason to travel to distant lands just to get their hands on that stuff. Stuff like this is especially good if it is obscure (except in Rich People circles) and, of course, expensive.

There are many categories of obscure/expensive international products. First, we have Obscure/Expensive Cosmetics. Since a lot of these are now becoming more widely available in the United States, Rich People are going to have to find new things to like in this category.

- Molton Brown: from England - you can buy a $23.00 bottle of hand soap and a $100.00 dish to hold the bottle of soap. Also shampoos, conditioners with names such as "Indian Cress," and soaps that come neatly wrapped in little silver papers
- Phyto: Lots of stuff for hair and "anti-aging" from France. It's expensive.
- Bath gels from Bourjois: Another French thing that isn't expensive, but while other Bourjois cosmetics are available in the United States, the bath gels and deodorants are only available in France. Not that expensive, until you factor in the cost of a First Class ticket to Paris (See #1: Flying First Class).

After cosmetics, another category of things that Rich People like are shoes. Rich Women like shoes even more than regular women like them. Even Rich Men like shoes. Here are some obscure and expensive international sources for footwear:

- Bally: A Swiss source of shoes, leather bags, etc. Part of the appeal is that Bally isn't as ubiquitous as Louis Vuitton or Prada or any of the things you can get fake versions of quite easily. Rich people also like the red and white signature stripe, as this makes it obvious that the shoes/bag are from Bally, but it is more "subtle" than a bag that shouts "Prada," so Rich People somehow find this less "pretentious."
- John Lobb: Rich Men really, really like the idea of custom shoes made by an Englishman. Even though there are now John Lobb stores in the United States, Rich People know that the only real place to get these is in London, and preferably at the Jermyn Street location (not Harrods or Selfridges)

Apart from makeup and shoes, Rich People also like food. (This does not include alcohol. Alcohol is it's own category. See #10.) Here are some of the expensive international foods they enjoy. Rich People like pricey foods, and especially ones that have to be flown in from somewhere else / have a ridiculous carbon footprint / have to be collected by hand or found by pigs or obtained by another ridiculously complicated and esoteric means. The most exciting foods are more expensive per unit of weight than cocaine. For example:

- Saffron: This Rich People spice is used in dishes such as Paella and can cost up to $5,000 per pound. A little spice-sized bottle at the grocery store can go for $25.00, and when you open the glass jar, it really just contains a paper packet with a few stems in it. Saffron comes from the stamens of individual crocuses, and it has to be harvested very quickly after the bloom of the flower, which means filling the field with saffron-harvesters working forty-hours straight to get this spice. Saffron is an awesome spice for Rich People because it is not only crazily expensive, but also is ridiculously difficult to grow and harvest, and as a bonus, it comes from Spain.
- Truffles (and not the chocolate kind, either): These pungent relatives of the mushroom look like rocks and sometimes have a taste redolent of gasoline, but they cost between $800/pound (for black truffles) to almost $3000/pound (for white truffles). Truffles are found by "truffle hogs" - pigs that can find the truffles by smell so that they can be dug from the ground - and more recently, dogs. Apparently, female pigs like the smell of truffles because they smell similar to the male pig sex hormone. Take from that statement what you will. And they come from France.
- Caviar: Very expensive sturgeon (it's a fish) eggs that come from exotic countries near the Caspian Sea and Black Sea. In the US, the best kind, Beluga, costs several thousand dollars a pound. The other expensive (but not as expensive as Beluga) varieties are Ossetra and Sevruga. Again, we have a complicated method of harvest -- the fish has to reach maturity, which can take a few decades, and can weigh a few thousand pounds when it gets there. Then, you have to eat it with a spoon made of something like mother of pearl, because a metal spoon ruins the taste.