A Swiss restaurant owner has announced this month that he intends to serve a menu of dishes cooked with human breast milk. Mr Locher has been posting ads looking for lactating woman to provide the raw ingredient at about £3($6) for 14 fluid ounces.
He first began experimenting with it when his daughter was born and claims, “One can cook really delicious things with it. However, it always needs to be mixed with a bit of whipped cream, in order to keep the consistency.”
I wonder how many customers this menu will attract. Although most of us have been breast-fed as infants, the prospect of consuming someone else’s breast milk does make most of us feel a little queasy. Why? What is about consuming someone else’s human milk that some of us find repugnant? Why are we so happy to consume cow or goat milk? And what is so wrong with Kate Garraway suckling a calf in the recent Guardian article to highlight our peculiar attitudes towards breast-feeding?
You may remember a few years back that TV chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cooked up a mother’s placenta on an episode of Channel 4’s “TV Dinners.” Rosie Clear had just given birth and wanted to celebrate this with friends and family with a special dinner. Hugh obligingly flambéed the placenta with red wine and shallots to make a pâté, served on foccacia beard. As I described in the book, apparently Rosie’s husband woofed down 17 helpings while other dinner guests were more reluctant. Half the viewing nation rushed to their telephones to complain whereas the other half rushed to their toilets. Channel 4 was severely reprimanded by the British Broadcasting Standards Commission for bad taste and Hugh was left confused by the public reaction. What’s so wrong?
I think the placenta thing is more gross and for someone not keen on red, bloody meat in the first place, I know which I would swallow if forced to choose.
Still it is an interesting dilemma. As always, I think culture plays a role by shaping our disgust response which I would argue builds upon essentialist notions. We don’t hold these notions for cows and goats but humans are another matter. That’s why the Swiss authorities are still baffled by the apparent loophole in the law that allows Mr Locher to serve human milk. No one thought that it would ever be an issue. Maybe they should start considering other bodily parts. Finger nibbles anyone?