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All the fine young cannibals
December 2, 2005 10:14 AM   Subscribe

"I sat down to it with my bottle of wine, a bowl of rice, salt and pepper at hand. I had thought about this and planned it for a long time, and now I was going to do it. I was going to do it, furthermore -- I had promised and told myself -- with a completely casual, open, and objective mind. But I was soon to discover that I had bluffed and deceived myself a little in pretending so detached an attitude." The problems of researching what you and I actually taste like. [Previous threads]. [Via]
posted by Ogre Lawless (43 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was hypnotic to read. I will say without judgeing the man who did the cooking and eating that I feel a sudden need to take a stringent, scrubbing shower.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:38 AM on December 2, 2005


Q: What does [soylent cola] taste like?
A: It varies from person to person...
posted by clevershark at 10:41 AM on December 2, 2005


Fascinating.
posted by amro at 10:48 AM on December 2, 2005


What BeerGrin said.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 10:50 AM on December 2, 2005


It was disturbing that my mouth actually watered at his description.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:51 AM on December 2, 2005


Almost what BeerGrin said: hypnotic to read, but my immediate response afterwards was "where can I buy good, fully developed veal around here"?
posted by nowonmai at 11:03 AM on December 2, 2005


That was an amazing read. Thanks!
posted by shoepal at 11:05 AM on December 2, 2005


immediate response afterwards was "where can I buy good, fully developed veal around here"?

Is that like when I finished reading Fast Food Nation, I closed the book and immediately went to McDonald's for a large Big Mac meal?
posted by mrbill at 11:06 AM on December 2, 2005


Serendipity: I remember hearing a radio story about W. Arens now-infamous Man Eating Myth: Anthropology and Anthropophagy. The thesis of it seemed loony at the time, and seems even loonier now: That stories of regularly-practiced cannibalism are false, the result of colonial rationalizations made to justify taking over the lands of inconvenient natives.

Cannibalism (like incest), I guess, is supposed to be a gut-level taboo that would only be broken by unstable individuals, and would never ever actually be practiced. It's unimaginable, I guess.

Well, anyway, now I actually have a reference for that book I heard about so logn ago...
posted by lodurr at 11:08 AM on December 2, 2005


I'm all at once hungry and nauseated.
posted by S.C. at 11:16 AM on December 2, 2005


An interesting take on the incest taboo is Theodore Sturgeon's If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?.
posted by Captaintripps at 11:23 AM on December 2, 2005


Wow, that was really incredible. It made me hungry, it made me curious, it made me squirm.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:25 AM on December 2, 2005


Yeh, that Sturgeon story inspired my first tingling sensation that there was something profoundly risky about relying on Platonic dialog as a path toward truth. Condenscending teacher: "Surely you must agree [insert seemingly innocuous propostion]?" [Not stated: "... or you're a fool."]

A good con-man can sucker you into agreeing with just about anything via platonic dialog.

That said, Sturgeon had some important points: Animals mate with close blood kin all the time, and you need do do a shitload of interbreeding before there's a problem with narrowing the gene pool. Problem basically goes away if you have a lot of genetic mobility in a large population. (He does pretty much completely handwave on the cultural and power-relations issues related to close-kin sexuality, though.)

Whether animals eat one another, though, is more interesting: Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I'm not aware of major predators who eat adults of their own species, but AFAIK most will eat the young of their own species. So if we were to judge by comparison with other animals, we should regard it as a little unusual (comparatively) that we don't eat our own young. I expect eating the young is more of a practical thing than anything else, though: The meat's there, why waste it? Because it happens most often (again, aFAIK) when a dominant adult is trying to eliminate the offspring of another dominant adult. I know of it being documented among cats, mice, rats, chimps, and baboons.

[/derail]
posted by lodurr at 11:43 AM on December 2, 2005


> Kuru is a fatal neurologic disease that is restricted to the highlands of New Guinea, where it has infected the Fore (pronounced for-ay), a tribe of remote highland natives. The word kuru means "trembling with fear" in the native language.

The disease is now almost nonexistent and is believed to have existed for only a short time before it was first described in 1957. (At that time, the older members of the tribe said that it had not existed during their youth, which would mean that it had existed for only 10-20 y.) The Fore were isolated both from Western civilization and from other natives by very mountainous terrain, and kuru has not been described in any other location.

Kuru was spread by the endocannibalistic funeral practices of the Fore. Family members were ritualistically cooked and eaten following their death, with the closest female relatives and children usually consuming the brain, which was the most infectious organ. The women scooped the brain tissue out with their bare hands and did not subsequently wash them for weeks. During this time, they were handling, caring for, and possibly infecting their young children.

The effects on the Fore were devastating, wiping out whole villages at the height of the disease. Kuru is caused by a prion and serves as a prototype for a group of prion diseases (scrapie in sheep, transmissible mink spongiform encephalopathy, bovine spongiform encephalopathy [BSE; also called mad cow disease]). It reached epidemic proportions by entering the Fore food chain. In humans, other prion diseases, including familial Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome, and fatal familial insomnia, are transmitted by genetic mutations.

posted by dhartung at 11:53 AM on December 2, 2005


Fascinating. I was prepared to be grossed out. But he wrote about it in such a way that it was just interesting, not gross.
posted by raedyn at 11:58 AM on December 2, 2005


Can someone tell me what he actually ate? I'm curious but I don't think I can bear to read the article.
posted by gubo at 12:01 PM on December 2, 2005


He ate person , gubo. Person.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:10 PM on December 2, 2005


If he is my brother, why can't I eat him?
posted by davros42 at 12:14 PM on December 2, 2005


Roast person and grilled steak of person, to be precise.
posted by leapingsheep at 12:17 PM on December 2, 2005


Well, if anyone does decide to try it for yourself, just be sure to let the judge know that the video games made you do it.
posted by Durhey at 12:25 PM on December 2, 2005


Once we start cloning muscle tissue, wouldn't it be more humane to eat each other, instead of killing cows for burgers?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:33 PM on December 2, 2005


Good thread. Conversation a bit dry. Would suggest less time in the oven.
posted by Rothko at 12:49 PM on December 2, 2005


I definately squirmed a lot while reading this. Not a lot gets to me, but this did.

From a logical standpoint, eating human flesh really isn't different than any other meat (like veal, apparently), but, psychologically, I just can't handle it.

Interesting perspective. I wonder if this is anything like how vegans.

EW man. Just EW.
posted by ruthsarian at 1:27 PM on December 2, 2005


I think I'll have a vegetarian dinner tonight after reading this. I couldn't stop thinking about Hannibal Lecter while reading this essay, especially the scene where he serves the FBI agent part of his own brain.
posted by caddis at 2:20 PM on December 2, 2005


...and Ray Liotta's character says something like, "That smells delicious!"

Ah yes, a great scene from a horrible film.
posted by bardic at 2:26 PM on December 2, 2005


ah, so Seabrook was Greenaway's model for the Thief for whom the Wife Cooked her Lover?
posted by Laotic at 2:42 PM on December 2, 2005


What a gem of an article - I love the way it's like a little exercise in epistemology.
posted by Flitcraft at 4:14 PM on December 2, 2005


Well, he is mostly right about the taste, but it can get a bit stringy. It would go nicely with a good merlot.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:28 PM on December 2, 2005


Russell Banks' lastest novel (The Darling) has a good scene in which the protagonist cannot bring herself to eat "bush meat" (chimps), for the same reason I couldn't eat apes or monkeys or dolphins. But don't get me started on food taboos, cultural or personal...fascinating to think about, though.
posted by kozad at 4:31 PM on December 2, 2005


Skim the article to the last paragraph if you're pressed for time. Interesting read.

So, when do we start farming humans?
posted by sjvilla79 at 4:31 PM on December 2, 2005


From a logical standpoint, eating human flesh really isn't different than any other meat (like veal, apparently,

My understanding is that it's waaay more unsafe in terms of parasites etc., that you'd really have to cook the heck out of it. IANAD (of medicine).
posted by Aknaton at 5:12 PM on December 2, 2005


Eat Hufu
posted by SuzySmith at 5:29 PM on December 2, 2005


So, when do we start farming humans?

Would this be acceptable to ethical (as opposed to, or at least contrasted with don't-like-the-taste) vegetarians?

JOKE: If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?
posted by ny_scotsman at 5:56 PM on December 2, 2005


Would this be acceptable to ethical (as opposed to, or at least contrasted with don't-like-the-taste) vegetarians?

I don't eat any meat apart from fish. And for many years I was a strict vegan. But human farms? Well, I can't see a problem with it. We'd have to breed some kind of human that's good for farming only though. And that might take a few generations, so there will probably be some growing pains.
posted by sjvilla79 at 8:39 PM on December 2, 2005


Eat Hufu

OMG
posted by sjvilla79 at 8:44 PM on December 2, 2005


If we're going to have a war in Iraq, why waste perfectly good meat?

You figure that about 300,000 Iraqis have died so far. Well, if you assume each one weighs about 130 lbs, that's about 40 million pounds of meat. You'd think we'd each be able to get a small Iraqi gyros if only we didn't let the food go to waste.

Them's good eatin'!
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:34 PM on December 2, 2005


Well, according to the American aghori "Human flesh smells like rawhide and tastes like pork. The fingers are the most succulent part."

No, I don't believe him either.
posted by Paragon at 2:41 AM on December 3, 2005


I'll pass on the fava beans and the liver, thanks.

I could use a nice big glass of Chianti, though.

My two cents: would I eat human flesh as described? No way never.

For $1,000,000? No way never.

It ain't right.

To stay alive, as in "Alive"? Probably.
posted by bwg at 4:30 AM on December 3, 2005


What I want to know is where Daisy Fellowes got her long pig.

Put another way: This "human meat" they're eating? It used to be a human. Who had to get dead to be eaten. What i want to know is, how and why did that human get dead?
posted by lodurr at 8:52 AM on December 3, 2005


It was disturbing that my mouth actually watered at his description.
posted by Captaintripps at 1:51 PM EST on December 2 [!]

It was surprising to me how nauseated I became. So much so that I had to stop reading about the time he was describing in great detail the roast he was about to eat.


Can someone tell me what he actually ate? I'm curious but I don't think I can bear to read the article.

posted by gubo at 3:01 PM EST on December 2

"A friend obtained for me from a hospital interne at the Sorbonne a chunk of human meat from the body of the first healthy human carcass killed by accident, that they could dispose of as they chose. I cooked it in Neuilly, at the villa of the Baron Gabriel des Hons, who was my translator. I ate a lot of it in the presence of witnesses"

It would seem a little bit more difficult-- but not impossible-- to obtain human flesh from a hopital these days. I wonder how many people have tried it in secret.

I was very taken with the idea of forcing my heirs to eat my body in order to obtain my vast fortune. I wonder if that would be legal?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:17 AM on December 3, 2005


Does anyone remember a certain Filipino wedding?

More cannibal news at that site.
posted by bwg at 4:52 PM on December 3, 2005


I predict cloned human-muscle tissue, once it can easily and be done, will be a delicacy in expensive restaurants, with some sort of "Extreme Eating" cachet. I'd go for it, it does actually sound quite pleasant to eat, and the enormous taboo would definitely give the meal an extra psychological kick - sign me up!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:06 PM on December 3, 2005


A book where I first encountered the "farming people for food" idea
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 11:10 AM on December 4, 2005


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