Okay, then, the subject is whale poop. Specifically, sperm whale poop known as ambergris.
It has have sometimes been described, inaccurately, as sperm whale vomit. Ambergris comes out the other end . . . formed in a whale stomach as a protective barrier around sharp, indigestible squid beaks, and then excreted.
Of all the world’s feces, ambergris may be the only one prized as an ingredient in fragrances, cocktails and medicines. It’s eaten, too. Persian sherbets once included ambergris along with water and lemon . . .
The author of a new book titled Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris includes obscure recipes . . . in which “grey amber” was melted like butter onto roasted game encased in pastries.
The author also cooks with a piece of white ambergris: “It crumbles like truffle. I fold it carefully into the eggs with a fork. Rising and mingling with curls of steam from the eggs, the familiar odor of ambergris begins to fill and clog my throat, a thick and unmistakable smell that I can taste. It inhabits the back of my throat and fills my sinuses. It is aromatic—both woody and floral. The smell reminds me of leaf litter on a forest floor and of the delicate, frilly undersides of mushrooms that grow in damp and shaded places.”