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And you thought the X-Files was fiction
June 17, 2010 9:24 PM   Subscribe

I don't usually learn strange and disturbing things from the mouth of dinosaurs, but there's always a first time for everything. The fact that it's true makes it even worse.

There apparently was a French soldier in the late 1700s who had the ability to eat, among other terrible things, his weight in meat every day. He was observed eating a meal for 15 men, and would eat live animals for the entertainment of others. He even inspired the saying "Bom-bom tarare!".
posted by Cobalt (58 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
He later became a mutant villain and nemesis of the X-men.
posted by oddman at 9:34 PM on June 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


he ate a meal intended for 15 people in a single sitting, ate live cats, snakes, lizards and puppies

WHAT
How does one eat a live cat, exactly?
posted by mrnutty at 9:35 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very carefully.
posted by scatter gather at 9:39 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


AAAAAAUUUUUAAAAAAGH, having just read the entirety of the Wikipedia entry.
posted by mwhybark at 9:41 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Cat Eaters

- Fortean Times - may require log in.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:42 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


That Wiki page is pretty horrifying, particularly the part about his autopsy. I wonder if there is a medical condition diagnosed today that would explain him and his weird appetite? Some sort of hypothyroidism?
posted by gemmy at 9:44 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


But when I say 'the French will eat' anything I'm a racist.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:50 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, he probably ate a baby! From the Wiki:

"After some time, a 14-month old child disappeared from the hospital, and Tarrare was immediately suspected. Percy was unable or unwilling to defend him, and the hospital staff chased Tarrare from the hospital, to which he never returned."
posted by drinkyclown at 9:59 PM on June 17, 2010


Well, to be charitable, the French do have the best sauces.
posted by yhbc at 10:00 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just saw this on reddit, apparently he was suspected of having eaten a baby.
posted by delmoi at 10:03 PM on June 17, 2010


The expression "Bom bom tarare" in France at this time referred to a loud explosion, and Bondeson (2001) speculates that the name was a nickname referring to the sound of Tarrare's flatulence.

Something tells me that he could've given Le Pétomane a run for his money...
posted by asconfusedasnigel at 10:07 PM on June 17, 2010


Le Pétomane's farts didn't stink.. this guy, people couldn't come near him because of his body stench, and I imagine after eating offal his farts were WMDs.

"Muthafucker be crazy! an' when dat garbage make it's way thru de digestium process, you bes' be hopin' you on yo' way outa heahh!"
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:11 PM on June 17, 2010


Half of me says this is no more than colorful historical anecdote (urban legend) while the other half says "SEE! HE WAS INFECTED WITH AN EARLY FORM OF THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE VIRUS! I TOLD YOU ZOMBIES WERE REAL!"
posted by treepour at 10:18 PM on June 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


See also: tarrasque.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:23 PM on June 17, 2010


See also: Rush Limbaugh.
posted by Ratio at 10:29 PM on June 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


Whoa. This would make an amazing movie. I don't know if it would be good, but it would be amazing.
posted by brundlefly at 10:41 PM on June 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


I want to believe.
posted by palacewalls at 10:49 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Also, he probably ate a baby! From the Wiki:

"
'After some time, a 14-month old child disappeared from the hospital, and Tarrare was immediately suspected. Percy was unable or unwilling to defend him, and the hospital staff chased Tarrare from the hospital, to which he never returned.'"

Sort of sounded like a witch hunt. If there was any evidence at all you'd think he'd have experienced harsher punishment than ejection from the hospital.
posted by Mitheral at 10:51 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh, just one tiny little mint...it's waffer thin!

i seem to recall an episode of "That's Incredible" back in the 80's about a guy who couldn't stop eating...some sort of super-rare genetic disorder, if he saw food, he would just have to eat all of it, right then and there...kind of sad, really...he had to have a cook prepare all of his meals and lock up all the cabinets...I like to imagine that it's a gene from way back in our pre-history, back when we were some sort of voratious filter feeder or goldfish, that somehow got switched back on...

also, i love that the dinosaur comics are always the same picture...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:14 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sounds like someone with the same skill/problem as Gal Sone.

Also, mad props to Dinosaur Comics.
posted by birdsquared at 11:16 PM on June 17, 2010


In 1788 Tarrare moved to Paris, to work as a street performer. He appears generally to have been successful, but on one occasion the act went wrong and he suffered severe intestinal obstruction. Members of the crowd carried him to the Hôtel-Dieu hospital, where he was treated with powerful laxatives. He made a full recovery, and offered to demonstrate his act by eating his surgeon's watch and chain; M. Giraud, the surgeon, was unimpressed by the offer and warned him that if he did so, he would cut Tarrare open to recover the watch.

That surgeon had kids. Probably boys.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:16 PM on June 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


"fetid beyond all conception"
posted by gnutron at 11:19 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


...he would eat any available food from gutters and refuse heaps but his condition still deteriorated through hunger.

Through not being hungry, more likely.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:20 PM on June 17, 2010


Historians of ancient Taxidemælogy, this is the thread to dig out the history of cat skinning knowledge... then it's some sort of extrapolation process from there, or interpolation, yeah, not one clue how one does that, rage? Google timeline.
(think of the great cat massacre. When the Œconomy's going down the drain, or out a gusher, and the other oil companies aren't taking a lesson from ford, and changing gear (pun), because 'regulation' is now a matter of 'protecting' companies from doing things that are foolish, and will be held liable for; honestly, these companies, like the ending of bank being able to have departments that are gambling like madmen, while some people just want their money in a bank, and are unaware of the side bets on pyramid schemes with algorithms to prove them profitable. Once and for all we need to begin a war on Inefficient caloric conversion ratios! (or rather, finding our own ways of collecting the energy of Big~places that get ~lots~ of sun, there are places where no people live, and capturing just a portion of the energy of the higher altitude winds... Like WWII, bringing the full power of an American society at work, politically energized and healthy, fighting not to only save ourselves, but island nations, and all seaside residents of all continents, in the process we become the leaders and makers of exactly what the world needs, we need to stop before it happens again, we always want lessons, packaged up in short histories... well there it is.) USA. We can do it.

Sometimes a cigar Cat is just a cat... but sometimes, like in the context of this era, it is so much more. Google scholar shows a 'lot' of back and forth scholarly things figuring out what 'do' cats mean in these sorts of seemingly aberrant or singular brutal contexts.
posted by infinite intimation at 11:25 PM on June 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


"The fork was never found." Great ending line. That's a really well-crafted wikipedia page.
posted by painquale at 11:54 PM on June 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


what

...

Fascinating topic, but I can't pretend to understand that comment.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 11:56 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


(That comment being the one infinite intimation posted above. A commendation on a wiki page isn't hard to comprehend.)
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 11:58 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well that settles it. Infinite intimation is and always has been a markov post generator. It is not so surprising that he evaded detection for so long; what is surprising is that he tripped up here of all places.
posted by Bobicus at 12:25 AM on June 18, 2010


It's super surprising to me that he's evaded detection for so long! I would not have guessed so many nonsense comments could fly under the radar.
posted by painquale at 1:35 AM on June 18, 2010


Now I get it. After reading the related entry on Charles Domery, it becomes clear that throughout history pranksters have been inserting such cautionary tall-tales into official literature for laffs, and that without the benefit of something like an army of committed, vigilant crowdsourced editors to catch this poppycock before it made it to the printers, it has survived in books to this day when, ironically, an army of crowdsourced editors on wikipedia affirm its veracity by virtue of its having been printed. This is the only possible explanation. Try just biting a cat sometime, let alone eating a few dozen of them whole.
posted by millions at 1:53 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sounds like hyperphagia run amok.

Plus, how the Hell did he not gain any weight? Dude should have weighed a ton, literally.
posted by bwg at 3:24 AM on June 18, 2010


Gal Sone has appeared in a commercial for Aoki's Pizza, who created a mayonnaise pizza in her honor. Mayonnaise sauce is her favourite saucemy bold

I'm taking deep breaths, trying not to hurl; I like mayonnaise ok in small doses-- like on a sandwich--but the thought of a mayonnaise pizza just horrifies me.

I wonder if there is a medical condition diagnosed today that would explain him and his weird appetite? Some sort of hypothyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism can speed up your metabolic processes and leave you ravenous. You can eat vast quantities of food without gaining weight so that might be the answer.

i seem to recall an episode of "That's Incredible" back in the 80's about a guy who couldn't stop eating...some sort of super-rare genetic disorder, if he saw food, he would just have to eat all of it, right then and there.

There is a genetic disorder, Prader-Willi Syndrome that causes insatiable appetite, however the patients usually have stunted growth and mental disabilities
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:47 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


At the autopsy, Tarrare's gullet was found to be abnormally wide, and when his jaws were opened surgeons could see down a broad canal into the stomach. His body was found to be filled with pus; his liver and gallbladder were abnormally large, and the stomach was enormous, covered in ulcers, and filled most of the abdominal cavity.

Followed, we presume, by "Christ, what an asshole!"
posted by hal9k at 4:03 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mitheral: They were probably afraid he would eat them.
posted by edbles at 4:09 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cthulhu fhtagn
posted by procrastination at 4:17 AM on June 18, 2010


eat, among other terrible things, his weight in meat every day.

I don't see how that doesn't disobey the laws of physics. Isn't my weight in meat going to be about the same size as my body? How is that going to fit into a sub-section of my body? Although the stench and "chronic diarrhoea" might mean he's expelling the food rapidly too.
posted by DU at 4:56 AM on June 18, 2010


Also, almost every physical particular of his, from his disgusting habits to his "wide mouth" and "colorless lips" sounds like Gollum.

I see the there are 5 bibliographic references, 2 of which are recent sensationalistic books by the same author. Here's a neat feature for Wikipedia to consider: I'd like to be able to temporarily mark certain sources as unreliable and see what remains in the article.
posted by DU at 5:01 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Damn. Just... damn.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:27 AM on June 18, 2010


"After falling under suspicion of eating a toddler he was ejected from the hospital" is the greatest sentence I'm likely to read for some time.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:34 AM on June 18, 2010


DecemberBoy: How about "A German student created a major traffic jam in Bavaria after making a rude gesture at a group of Hell's Angels motorcycle gang members, hurling a puppy at them and then escaping on a stolen bulldozer"?

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65E39Q20100615
posted by saturday_morning at 5:41 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fork was never found.

what
posted by jquinby at 5:52 AM on June 18, 2010


"What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell's Angels is currently unclear," said a spokesman for local police.

You, sir, are bad at your job. That should be your first question.

That news article is less than satisfactory. Answers I need point by point:

-They have Hell’s Angels in Germany?
-Did he just have the puppy on hand, by accident or was this premeditated?
-Is it even his puppy?
-Did he believe the explosion of cute puppy would calm the Bikers down?
-Why was there a bulldozer in the parking lot of a biker bar?
posted by edbles at 5:53 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


saturday_morning: You win. That's way better.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:57 AM on June 18, 2010


"His body was filled with pus"

Well isn't that special?
posted by stormpooper at 6:00 AM on June 18, 2010


Well, that's just unsanitary - cook it first!

Cat as It Should Be Eaten.
posted by zamboni at 7:15 AM on June 18, 2010


Myself I'm curious about the breed of puppy.
posted by saturday_morning at 7:23 AM on June 18, 2010


I'm with T-Rex, I call shenanigans. I would not be at all surprised to find out that the name of the original chronicler of the story in 1798 was Marquis Aston de Kutcherois, who later emigrated to America.
posted by Cobalt at 7:44 AM on June 18, 2010


How does one eat a live cat, exactly?

Comme ci. But avec plus de chat.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:01 AM on June 18, 2010


Tarara boom de ay! Tarara boom de ay!
posted by Trochanter at 8:11 AM on June 18, 2010


Isn't my weight in meat going to be about the same size as my body?

Yeah, they described him before eating has having a large hanging flap of skin which he could wrap around his waist. Also, he only weighed 100lbs as an adult.
posted by fontophilic at 10:12 AM on June 18, 2010


I may only be picking up the implicit pattern of what the author(s) of the Wikipedia article themselves believe happened, but this story hangs together just well enough to make me think it could be real.

Under that assumption, I'd try to attribute this guy's abnormalities to chronic, runaway infection, beginning as an infant, by a severe intestinal pathogen such as Clostridium Difficile, which can give rise to pseudomembranous colitis:

The illness is characterized by offensive-smelling diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, life-threatening complications can develop, such as toxic megacolon.

The truly outstandingly horrifying thing about this account to me, among a very terrifying multitude, is the possibility the pathogen successfully remodeled his entire physiology to suit its own needs:

He was described as having unusually soft fair hair, and an abnormally wide mouth in which his teeth were heavily stained,[11] and on which the lips were almost invisible.[12][13] When he had not eaten his skin would hang so loosely that he could wrap the fold of skin from his abdomen around his waist,[11][12] and when full his abdomen would distend "like a huge balloon".[8] The skin of his cheeks was wrinkled and hung loosely, and when stretched out he was able to hold twelve eggs or apples in his mouth.[13][14] His body was hot to the touch and he sweated heavily and constantly suffered from foul body odour;[11][13] he was described as "stinking to such a degree that he could not be endured at twenty paces".[13] This smell would get noticeably worse after he had eaten,[12][13] his eyes and cheeks would become bloodshot,[11] a visible vapour would rise from his body,[13] and he would become lethargic, during which time he would belch noisily and his jaws would make swallowing motions.[13] He suffered from chronic diarrhoea, which was said to be "fetid beyond all conception".[13] Despite his large intake of food he did not appear either to vomit excessively or to gain weight.[15] Aside from his eating habits, his contemporaries saw no apparent signs of mental illness or unusual behaviour in him,[15] other than an apparently apathetic temperament, with "a complete lack of force and ideas".[4][13]
...
At the autopsy, Tarrare's gullet was found to be abnormally wide, and when his jaws were opened surgeons could see down a broad canal into the stomach.[20] His body was found to be filled with pus;[16] his liver and gallbladder were abnormally large,[16] and the stomach was enormous, covered in ulcers,[12] and filled most of the abdominal cavity.[16][19] The fork was never found.[21

The image of a distorted and grotesquely suffering human form stretched around and completely in thrall to a large fermentative bioreactor seems inescapable.
posted by jamjam at 1:03 PM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


um, i liked the comics.
posted by peterkins at 1:35 PM on June 18, 2010


Oh, and does it strike anyone else that there are important and distinctive aspects of the the French national character which can be seen as extremely mild versions of Tarrare's afflictions?

Specifically, a deep devotion to and concern with all matters pertaining to food and eating, a willingness to attempt to consume things many other nationalities might find initially a bit offputting (yes, I am thinking of snails and stinky cheeses, but there are other examples), a protective attitude toward the process of digestion which tends to insist that nothing be allowed to interfere with it, and even short, broad, rather barrel-like physiques.

Not to mention what I've seen referred to as a national deficit of ambition and energy (I personally would consider this a virtue, by the way) somewhat akin, perhaps, to Tarrare's "complete lack of force and ideas."

We could, not altogether implausibly, I'd say, put this down to the presence in the normal gut flora of the typical French person, organisms of the type which consumed Tarrare, but under control and at a much lower level-- a level sufficient only to impart a unique piquancy to the French as a people.
posted by jamjam at 3:07 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Almost any doctor will tell you that love of black-and-white striped shirts is practically ironclad proof of bacterial infection.
posted by DU at 6:09 PM on June 18, 2010


Almost any doctor will tell you that love of black-and-white striped shirts is practically ironclad proof of bacterial infection.

Almost any doctor will tell you being born is proof of bacterial infection, if you have a predilection for wasting your money confirming the obvious.
posted by jamjam at 6:58 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, the more I hear about this, the more I can only sum it up in two words:

Fucking gross.
posted by bwg at 9:39 AM on June 20, 2010


Deat jamjam,

If I ever start a band, I am naming it Toxic Megacolon thanks to you.
posted by thekilgore at 12:20 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lizzie Velasquez, 21-year-old with undiagnosed genetic disorder, must eat 60 times a day to survive (NY DAILY Metafilterin' NEWS)
posted by mwhybark at 7:30 PM on June 29, 2010


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