Causing something of a stir … breast milk ice cream has gone on sale in London’s Covent Garden.
What do you get when you put Madagascan vanilla pods, lemon juice, milk and cream, egg yolks and golden caster sugar together? Usually pretty good ice cream – but then what is the result when you add human breast milk? Well, nothing much more – but it’s sure to split the room like a beginner’s Hollandaise.
The world’s first breast milk ice cream has been developed by the “Icecreamists” – you could call them the Sid and Nancy of the ice cream world – and at the helm is founder, Matt O’Connor.
They’ve opened a new ice cream parlour in Covent Garden and one of the flavours he developed – and one which has generated a mass of publicity and visitors is “Baby Gaga” . He calls it “a wonderful celebration of motherhood” – but priced at an icy £14.95 – will it go down well? “Its “pure, organic, free range and totally natural”. So what’s not to like?
Well this is the bit that people just can’t seem to get their head around. “Baby Gaga” is made with a milk pump-expressed on the premises by over-producing lactacting women who get paid £15 for every ten ounces. It takes eighteen ounces to make one batch and each serving is 200mls. All the ice cream served in the shop is made on the premises every day.
“Baby Gaga” comes on a silver tray in a Martini glass, with two rusk, Bonjela gel and a shot of Calpol. The ice cream has a Jelly Baby garnish. Initially I think this is all to take the taste away but it’s an unnecessary and expensive gimmick.
The ice cream is dense and creamy but far too sweet for me. I have never tried human breast milk in its natural form but some say it’s oily with a bitter after-taste – that could explain the sugar. It looks as if customers aren’t put off by the price tag or the sweetness either. When I arrive to take some photographs it’s all gone.
Interestingly enough a mother was offering her milk whilst I was there so I’m sure there will be a fresh batch on the way soon. By the way all donors are screened to the same standards as those donating blood.
Of course Matt’s not the first to experiment with breast milk – a New York chef made eight different kinds of cheese last year after his wife began freezing her excess milk. From Ricotta to a cheese with a cheddar-type texture and quality. The Health Department prevented him from selling it to his customers.
Matt’s really passionate about what he’s doing and his philosophy “is to push the boundaries of what ice cream’s all about”. Isn’t it about time ice cream got a makeover -and with flavours like chilli and lemongrass to quote just one of the dozen they’re making – it looks like it is.
So, if you’re looking for something different in the frozen desert department, you’ll definitely get it there. They’re also experimenting with cocktails – some I’m told take up to 15 minutes to make and involve quite a bit of theatre – the words blow and torch were mentioned – and priced between £10 and £15 it sounds like you’ll be paying for the whole experience.
£14.95 is the most you’ll pay for ice cream but if you’ve not got the budget or time to eat in, you can also takeaway – cups are £5.90 and cones too at £3.95 – no pun intended – I promise.
Since writing this post, the Icecreamists have had the ice cream removed by Westminster Council officers to make sure it was “fit for human consumption”.
And Matt’s been told to change the name of the desert to something which is not aurally, visually or conceptually similar to Lady Gaga’ or court action will be taken. The poker face singer is claiming it’s ‘detrimental’ to her image as it is ‘deliberately provocative and, to many people, nausea-inducing’.
I’ll keep you posted about the outcome of both.
The Icecreamists, 15 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7NG
10am to midnight, 7 days a week.
Update: the Baby Gaga team fought the pop star in court twice. And won, twice. Months later the pop-up shop ran its course and closed down.