Ice cream shops are putting everything imaginable in scoops these days, from charcoal to black vinegar. But the one thing that trumps them all, as far as we're concerned, is an ingredient that would make Moby Dick proud: It's called ambergris, and it comes from whales. More specifically, as First We Feast explains, ambergris appears in the ocean "when sperm whales cannot digest squid beaks; the beak gets stuck in the intestines where it is coated with a waxy substance and is somehow released." Is it whale poop? The answer to that is a little complicated, but in short: yes. The substance floats on the surface of the water, gets cured by sunshine and salt, and by the time it's collected on the shore its value is sky-high.
Ambergris was reportedly used in the first ice cream recipe ever documented, by Lady Anne Fanshaw in 1665 in England. But what's ambergris doing in ice cream? The ingredient creates an ultra-rich scoop, and adds a flavor that food historian Sarah Lohman describes as "floral" at first. We can't vouch for it ourselves yet, because it's hard to find and illegal to buy or sell. Which might be just as well, because when Lohman attempted to make ambergris ice cream, the floral taste eventually gave way to a flavor she describes as "armpit."
We're going to pass. But we'll leave you with this scene from Bob's Burgers, which sheds a little more light on the whole ambergris thing. So now are you tempted?
The Feast is Bravo’s digital destination for foodies, serving fresh culinary inspo, piping hot celebrity food coverage, diet and wellness trends, plus the kitchen hacks and tools you never knew you needed. Like us on Facebook and visit daily for a curated menu of essential food news, from seriously thought provoking to just plain fun.