Perfume From a Ferret's Posterior - How Civet Cats Produce Prized Perfume, Coffee and Flavors
Raised and prized in far-off, exotic lands, a certain cat-like creature produces a particularly pleasing secretion from an ostensibly unappealing part of its body. This creature is called a civet or toddycat.
Although civets are "feliform" creatures, they tend to resemble ferrets more closely than cats. That isn't what makes them special though...
I cannot talk with civet in the room, A fine puss-gentleman that's all perfume.
- William Cowper
What really makes civets seem strange is the fact that their butts fascinate humans. It's true! People can't get enough of the glandular secretions civets' posteriors produce. These same secretions serve a wide variety of weird and wonderfully wacky purposes for us.
The world of fine fragrances has long flirted with civets' aft-ends, making use of their secretions to produce a distinctive musk when properly diluted. Sure, "musk" might not be the most appealing term when you learn where it's coming from, but it is what it is...
More surprisingly, these aren't no-name brands we're talking about here - Chanel No.5, Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men and more make use of this stuff. If you fancy any of those fragrances, you can thank a civet's rectum for your wafting stench.
Kopi Luwak, an Indonesian take on extreme recycling, is essentially coffee. Only this coffee has been chosen, eaten and finally digested by a (presumably) happy little Asian palm civet. The droppings are sold as drink makings at a considerable premium - $700 USD per kilogram.
Although, paying a pretty penny for poop seems outrageous, the demand for this strange brewer's bean remains quite high. However, taste testers the world over have admitted to being confused about its appeal.
By now, it should be apparent that practically everything nice can be made from civet butt ooze, but spice is on the list too.
Before you say "ewww," consider the appeal of a warm, buttery rum flavor in fine confecionery or deep, dark chocolate indulgences. If that sounds even mildly tasty to you, you'd likely appreciate a bit of civet in your meal. It's hard to lose your lunch over the origin when the end result tastes so good.
Read up on Eduardo Kac's glowing green bunny...
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