We have reported some weird food innovations on Boggart Blog in the past but this has to be the one that proves food scientists are stark raving bonkers in the head. I mean what kind of insanity must they be infected with to think of using athletes foot bacteria to make cheese.
It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “that cheese was so ripe it could have walked out of the fridge on its own.”
Move over Stinking Bishop cheese, step asideSurstromming these foul smelling products are no longer contenders. An talking of fowl smelling, even the cheese our daughter brought from France a couple of years ago, that is crusted with chicken crap is sidelined for the title of “world’s stinkiest food. A pair of scientists from the U.K. recently unveiled a line of cheese products made from bacteria that they gathered from some of the smelliest parts of the human body. The main subjects of an unusual art and science project dubbed “Selfmade, the cheeses reportedly contained cultured bacteria collected from people’s feet, bellybuttons, armpits. This stuff could be a sexual fetishist gourmet’s delight.
Inspiration for the new cheese came to biologist Christina Agapakis and Sissel Tolaas, a perfume expert, after they spent time contemplating the individual scents and senses of smell of diverse human beings. I suppose they were investigating why we find the stink of our own farts quite pleasant but other people’s repulsive.
To study the disparity between how people react to the microbes normally used to make cheese and the microbes found naturally on the human body (which are in fact very similar), the pair devised a way of combining the two. Would people throw up at the stink of smelly sox but go yum yum on catching a whiff of cheese made from the same person’s athlete’s foot bugs.
“It’s no surprise that sometimes cheese odors and body odors are similar,” Agapakis told Dezeen magazine. “But when we began the project, we were surprised not only by the way cheese and smelly feet share a similar odour but also have similar microbe populations”
She went on to describe how samples were collected from a range of individuals, including artists, scientists, naturalists and even cheese makers (blessed are The Cheesemakers). They then grew cultures from the samples and created a new range of smelly cheeses. These were featured in an exhibition at the Science Gallery in Dublin, Ireland but as yet we have not heard from anybody who has actually eaten them.
“Like the human body, each cheese has a unique set of microbes that metabolically shape a unique odor,” explained the artists about the methodology of their work. “Cheese odors were sampled and characterized using headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis, a technique used to identify and/or quantify volatile organic compounds present in a sample.”
Since cheeses tend to take on the unique odors of the microbes used to make them, Agapakis and Tolaas had hoped to essentially mimic this process using human microbes. And they were successful, having created an entire line of cheeses that now serve as literal manifestations of the humans from which they were derived.