You might be wondering what you’re looking at right now. It sure as hell doesn’t look like food, and that’s probably because it isn’t food…which makes me wonder why it was ever put on this list. Kaolin is a type of clay, and (supposedly) many women in the south eat it. Some of them use it as an appetite suppressant, but many others have a form of pica, the desire to eat non-food items, such as clay, dirt, and chalk. I, however, don’t tend to crave inedible substances, so I wasn’t really looking forward to dining on nasty grey powder.
I attempted to find kaolin in its actual clay form – I think you can buy it like that – but I had no success. It was available in powder form from many different online stores, but for the purpose of external use (making face masques, soaps, or scrubs). Finally, I found what claimed to be edible kaolin. I have no idea if it was actually any different from any other kaolin, but I figured it’s better to be safe than sorry and I bought the “edible” kind. It also made me feel better that kaolin is used in some antidiarrheal medications; knowing that, I didn’t feel quite so scared about eating something that wasn’t actually food.
A few days later, the grey powdery substance arrived in a small, unmarked plastic bag and I felt like some sort of drug lord. I bet people at the post office were suspicious! I read online that to consume it, you can mix it with water to form a clay, so I did that. It felt no different from the clay I used to mold in high school art class, and I cringed at the thought of putting it into my mouth.
It was disgusting. It was mushy, thick, gritty, and just plain awful. It kind of had the flavor of flour mixed with water, except it was more metallic-tasting. The grit managed to get between my teeth, and several minutes later, whenever I closed my mouth, my teeth crunched together. It’s like when you go to the beach and get sand in your mouth- it NEVER goes away. You’re crunching for hours.
I don’t understand why someone would crave this. The flavor isn’t pleasant and neither is the texture. At least when you eat Playdough (yes, I ate it all the time as a kid), it’s deliciously salty. The kaolin was just muddy and bland, with an unpleasant aftertaste. I think I’ll stick to actual food, thank you very much.