Columbus could learn a few things from a $30 croissant

My friends know that when they suggest things that sound ludicrous — and those suggestions involve food — there is a 95 percent chance that I will investigate the matter further. Eating challenge, distant cuisine, whatever. In this spirit, a friend suggested I try Toast Bar's limited-edition $30 Fresh Alba White Truffle croissant.

I have been asked if a croissant can be worth $30. That's a fair question. It's certainly a big croissant, but Toast sells big croissants. White Alba truffles are exceedingly rare, so their presence in any dish raises its cost exponentially. They only come from Italy, and thanks to mankind's efforts to transform our atmosphere into a pizza oven, fewer of them grow every year. In a world in which anything can be commodified, white Alba truffles are a thing that literally commands its weight in gold. You can find ingredients that smell and taste better, but you cannot find its replacement.

Toast's truffle croissant is not a sensation you chase with regularity, or perhaps ever again. It costs too much to make a staple in any regular diet, and is too rich for pedestrian palates. Once the rush of daring slides away, you're essentially left with a cream-stuffed croissant.

And yet, there is the experience to consider. When you buy exorbitantly priced food, you're not buying the ingredients. You're not even always buying flavor. You're buying value, buying the moment of privilege that comes with being able to afford the experience. The world changes around expensive food. The service is different. The looks you get from other customers are warm; the banter between tables coquettish. Everyone feels so lucky to be alive at a time when such a concoction can be had.

Munching on fungus, I was reminded of all the times someone tried to convince me to attend an event billed as “an experience.” Columbus is good for putting fancy names on things that already have perfectly fine titles, like “happy hour.” “This is different,” we are told. “This is an EXPERIENCE.” Then we all post up at the bar drinking what we always drink, listening to music we already know and seeing the same people that come to all of the experiences. #AlwaysBeSelling

No, my friends: A white Alba truffle croissant is an experience. When eaten from one end, the taste vacillates from buttery to sweet to earthen to all three at once, then recedes into the mist once more. I questioned my station in life while eating that croissant, wondered if Columbus might one day pull off a transformative homegrown cuisine, considered if the pigs of Alba miss the autumn razing of the oaks.

Columbus culture could stand to learn a few things from a $30 croissant.