Wednesday, December 20, 2006

who knew?

one of the most e-mailed stories in the new york times is "please let it be whale vomit, and not sea junk." it turns out--whale barf is incredibly valuable!

Ambergris begins as a waxlike substance secreted in the intestines of some sperm whales, perhaps to protect the whale from the hard, indigestible “beaks” of giant squid it feeds upon. The whales expel the blobs, dark and foul-smelling, to float the ocean. After much seasoning by waves, wind, salt and sun, they may wash up as solid, fragrant chunks.

Ambergris has been a valued commodity for centuries, used in perfume because of its strangely alluring aroma as well as its ability to retain other fine-fragrance ingredients and “fix” a scent so it does not evaporate quickly. Its name is derived from the French “ambre gris,” or gray amber. During the Renaissance, ambergris was molded, dried, decorated and worn as jewelry. It has been an aphrodisiac, a restorative balm, and a spice for food and wine. Arabs used it as heart and brain medicine. The Chinese called it lung sien hiang, or “dragon’s spittle fragrance.” It has been the object of high-seas treachery and caused countries to enact maritime possession laws and laws banning whale hunting. Madame du Barry supposedly washed herself with it to make herself irresistible to Louis XV.

In “Paradise Regained,” Milton describes Satan tempting Christ with meat pastries steamed in ambergris. In “Moby-Dick,” Melville called it the “essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale.” Old newspapers show clippings every few years describing some whaling crew coming upon a hunk, or some vacationing family finding it on the beach and either cashing in — or discovering it was just ocean detritus.

It appears that barf is big business! and you naked apes think we're weird for eating our own spit-up. at least we don't spray it on ourselves!


Blogger Joe Stains said...

um that is probably the grossest thing I have ever seen! It looks like BOOGERS! ARGH. I think I might go throw up now!

11:45 AM  
Blogger wally said...

joe--are you saying boogers are grosser than what it actually is which is whale barf? hmm. i'm actually not averse to boogers, my own or others. but then i'm not grossed out by much. other than goddamn cats and champagne (i don't like the way it tickles my nose)


1:24 PM  
Blogger Boomer said...

As Homer Simpson would say "MMMM, whale barf".

4:22 PM  
Blogger Tin Tin Blogdog said...

Hey Wally,

Have you enough spew capability to develop a product for the highly susceptible naked ape market?

I wouldn't do too well, 'cos I digest everything, oh except the other day I did cough up one stomach's-worth of grass I'd chewed but I ate it again.

Nope, I couldn't be a producer. I'm sure there are doogs that could though.

Chow for now,

Tin Tin xo

11:43 PM  

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