New York City chef Daniel Angerer has caused a bit of a stir this week—anger, if you will, ha!—after posting a recipe for “mommy’s milk” cheese on his blog last month. In the post, Angerer explains without irony that he likes working with local and natural ingredients. CNN has jokingly called it “chest cheese” and a number of sources have questioned whether such a creation would be FDA approved—as did Angerer’s wife, speaking with the AP in this video.
You might think as a vegan, who is by definition opposed to taking the milk from infant non-human animals for my own consumption, I’d dig this bizarre stunt. But if anything, I think the chef’s choice just fetishizes milk—of the human or nonhuman variety. In an interview with the New York Post, Angerer said,” Breast milk doesn’t curdle well due to its low protein content, so a little moo juice has to be added to round out the texture.”
See? No vegan loophole. (And for the record, I’m not looking for a loophole or way out. I’m a happy vegan.) You still gotta add cow’s milk, and besides, the whole thing kind of reeks of publicity stunt.
Since I have never and can never be pregnant, I don’t feel particularly comfortable weighing in on whether or not anyone should be breast-feeding in the first place. I come from a long line of proud breast-feeders, however, so that does influence my perception. As someone who was breast fed for the entire first year of my life—and was initially allergic to cow’s milk and had to be weaned onto it (vegans and skeptics who think we shouldn’t be drinking other animal’s milk anyway, chime in!)—I’ve heard the requisite stories of milk overflow and required pumping. But I’ve also heard a number of non-breast feeding mothers discuss how painful breast-feeding can be, and I know some women simply can’t manage it for a variety of reasons.
This isn’t the first time someone has tried making breast milk cheese, but it doesn’t mean any of my questions about this have been answered. Among them: At what point did this become a sanitary option for inquisitive adults? Is it a better choice to make some cheese instead of donating the milk to babies in need? And at what point does this awkwardly conflate your sexual body and your milk-producing breasts as tools for public consumption? Call me old fashioned on this one—in part because I’d call myself the same—but I don’t get the allure of breast milk cheese, nor do I think it’s awesomely transgressive in any respect.