A restaurant is rewarding most of the time, but there are times that drive you absolutely crazy. This happens when you run out of the evening’s favorite dish, the sous chef doesn’t show up, a waiter drops a tray, or the lettuce has wilted. I can give you another apt example of aggravation. My pastry chef wanted gold leaf to add to a fancy new dessert. He couldn’t find it quickly and a local supplier said it would take more than a week. No dice. He went online and when it arrived, it didn’t look real. Was it a fake? Should he ask for a refund? It had to be the edible kind. He wanted to send it back out of fear of fakery, but he thought he could test it first. How do you tell if gold leaf is real? Surely not the same method as jewelry or nuggets.
He asked my advice and I said why not trust the online company, but if it will make you feel better, let’s try to find out. It looked authentic and was super thin and it did not break apart. This was the first bit of good news. The next point I offered was this: if it looked good and was guaranteed edible, why care if it is real? He didn’t accept this at all. I pride myself on quality, he maintained. I understood. What if it tasted funny, like something synthetic or with a chemical smell?
If we were dealing with jewelry, it would be simple. I found this blog to help me: https://www.findingafortune.net/how-to-tell-if-gold-you-found-is-real/. Experts apply nitric acid and try to attach a magnet to a piece for verification. Gold does not respond to a magnet. There is no such thing as plated gold leaf. I have never heard of such a concoction. We tried the magnet but the paper thin stuff lay flat as a board. I could see that we were getting nowhere. I started to think that gold leafing used on furniture is surely real; but for food purposes, it would not be edible if it is pure. I believe that food grade gold leaf isn’t alloyed with other toxic metals such as tin or lead like some gold for jewelry or coins. I suppose that it is pounded into a thin layer as it surely doesn’t come that way. You have to make it in easy-to-use transfer sheets.
We both continued to speculate until we were about to give up. A metal detector would be absurd and we already had tried the magnet. After conducting a visual taste, the last step would be to taste it. An experienced pastry chef would have eaten it many times before. Mine soon realized this. We both put a piece of a sheet in our mouths. No aftertaste at all. It had no taste at all. More good news. We were both satisfied and he went on to use the gold leaf on his pastry that night.