The debate about the best ice cream flavour normally revolves around chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.
But an ice cream shop owner in Hong Kong has invented a type unlikely to feature in any arguments – tear gas flavour.
The new product consists mostly of roasted, ground black peppercorns, a reminder of the pungent, peppery rounds fired by police at pro-democracy protesters during months of demonstrations last year.
The flavour is a sign of support for the protest movement that has stalled during the coronavirus pandemic, the man behind it said.
In a sign of ever-present tensions in the former British colony, the 31-year-old spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions from the territory’s pro-Beijing government.
“We would like to make a flavour that reminds people that they still have to persist in the protest movement and don’t lose their passion,” he said.
The owner tried different ingredients, including wasabi and mustard, in an effort to replicate the taste of tear gas before finding black pepper, which, he said, came closest to the throat-irritating effects of the gas.
“We roast and then grind whole black peppercorns and make them into gelato, the Italian style. It’s a bit hot, but we emphasise its aftertaste, which is a sensation of irritation in the throat.
“It just feels like breathing in tear gas,” he said.
The recipe is a success, customer Anita Wong said, after trying it.
“It tastes like tear gas. It feels difficult to breathe at first, and it’s really pungent and irritating. It makes me want to drink a lot of water immediately.”
Ms Wong, 32, who experienced tear gas at a protest, called it “a flashback that reminds me of how painful I felt in the movement, and that I shouldn’t forget”.
More than 16,000 rounds of tear gas were fired during the protests, Hong Kong authorities said, many in densely populated districts where narrow streets are filled with small restaurants and blocks of flats.
The protests began over proposed legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China to face charges.
While the bills were withdrawn, demonstrations continued over concerns Beijing is eroding the civil liberties granted to the former British colony when it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
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