Now THERE’S a headline I didn’t think I would ever be writing.
Yes, scientists and cheesemakers at the London biolab Open Cell collected bacteria from celebrity armpits, ears, noses and bellybuttons which were then grown in the lab until suitable strains could be selected for cheesemaking.
So how does one turn the human microbiome into a chunk of cheddar? As a museum blog post explains, milk is transformed into curds by a unique starter culture or bacteria, which determines whether the cheese will ripen into a nice cheddar or a bit of gouda. It turns out that many of the bacteria used to make cheese are similar to bacteria encountered on human skin. That’s why sometimes the scent of stinky feet and stinky cheese overlap. Some of the bacteria on the human body also has the power to turn fresh milk into cheese, and that was used to make the “cheese selfies.”
And just who are these celebrities who made cheese from their bodily bacteria?
Suggs, the singer for the ska band Madness, best known in the U.S. for its 1982 hit “Our House,” chose to be immortalized in cheddar. Alex James, bassist for the band Blur chose Cheshire cheese and celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal went for comté. Great British Bakeoff runner-up and food writer Ruby Tandoh chose Stilton while Rapper Professor Green, who admitted he truly hates cheese, insisted his belly-button bacteria be turned into mozzarella, the only cheese he can almost tolerate.
No idea what the human cheeses actually taste like as the celebrity cheeses will not be sampled, but will be sequenced in the lab to determine whether the bacteria in them are safe for consumption. Until then, they will be displayed under glass domes at the museum.