Unquiet meals make ill digestions
October 25, 2018 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Cannibalism is a symbol in our culture of total confusion: a lack of morality, law, and structure; it stands for what is brutish, utterly inhuman. The idea is that, unlike cannibals, we are upright, orderly, enlightened, and generally superior. But what we might use for symbolic purposes as an embodiment of structureless confusion has nevertheless a basis in clear cold fact: cannibal societies have existed since time immemorial. As social beings, cannibals must inevitably have manners. Whatever we might think to the contrary, rules and regulations always govern cannibal society and cannibal behaviour.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (21 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 


The anthropologist Paul Shankman – in the course of examining cannibal cooking practices as a test of Lévi-Strauss’s claims that roasting is high in prestige, boiling low, and so on – collected ways of cooking people culled from reports on cannibal societies. The resulting collection was a “veritable smorgasbord” of methods. People have indeed been boiled in pots, and roasted by spit, rack, or exposure to an open fire. They have also been steam-baked, cooked on preheated rocks and in earth ovens, smoked, decomposed first, dried, powdered, preserved, stuffed into bamboo tubes and placed in the embers, their bones burned to ashes and stirred into many kinds of sauces, juices, and mashes. A body could be buried, then exhumed and eaten in its rotten state.

The residents of Flavour Town contain multitudes.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:39 PM on October 25, 2018 [12 favorites]


What about InstantPot and AirFryer, though
posted by The Toad at 8:45 PM on October 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


their bones burned to ashes and stirred into many kinds of sauces, juices, and mashes

There was a recent FPP about exactly this. Some things never go out of style.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:17 PM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Waste not, want not?
posted by MissySedai at 9:25 PM on October 25, 2018


Get it without the Donkey Sauce. Trust me.
posted by rhizome at 10:14 PM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also what's the best hotdish preparation?
posted by rhizome at 10:15 PM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Barbecued, surely.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:48 PM on October 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


How the hell do pop anthropology articles about cannibalism continue to pretend that cannibalism wasn't a routine part of life in Europe across both space and time until relatively recent history.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:24 AM on October 26, 2018 [10 favorites]


Huh, I never thought of Vampires as being cannibals before, but I suppose the shoe does fit.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 3:34 AM on October 26, 2018


People have always eaten people. What else is there to eat?
If the Juju had meant us not to eat people, he wouldn't have made us of meat.
posted by flabdablet at 4:24 AM on October 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


No elbows on the table.
posted by Kabanos at 4:40 AM on October 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


Vampires are no more cannibals than cereal in milk is a cold soup.
posted by Easy problem of consciousness at 5:23 AM on October 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


But do they grok cannibals?
posted by elizilla at 6:05 AM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


The secret's in the sauce.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:37 AM on October 26, 2018


Ha! The post reminded me of a book one of my anthropology professors mentioned when I was in college, and I was just thinking I should look it up, and it was mentioned in the article! Arens, "The Man Eating Myth". Even in the 1980s the absolutist take seemed unlikely, since kuru was well established and I had at that point read papers by a couple anthropologists with pretty good personal evidence for inter-group cannibalism. Though the general principal of 'be skeptical of assertions that the next tribe over (who we fight with) are definitely cannibals' did seem good.
posted by tavella at 9:10 AM on October 26, 2018


than cereal in milk is a cold soup.

My friends and I just went through a very contentious argument about whether a wrap is a sandwich or not. I've just sent them the hypothesis that cereal in milk is cold soup. Thank you for your service.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:57 AM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


No elbows on the table.

You win the internet!
posted by BlueHorse at 5:34 PM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


The elbow's the best part!
posted by rhizome at 7:17 PM on October 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Huh, interesting - when I did an anthropology degree in the mid-90s, we were still being taught the 'cannibalism has never existed, it's just a device for othering' line. I'm starting to think it's actually quite fortunate that I remember so little of what I studied for my degree.
posted by penguin pie at 3:59 PM on October 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Huh, interesting - when I did an anthropology degree in the mid-90s, we were still being taught the 'cannibalism has never existed, it's just a device for othering' line.

Oh man, really? I wrote a term paper on cannibalism for my anthropology degree. There's a big difference between ritualized funerary cannibalism and treating-humans-as-meat cannibalism, but both are present in the fossil record and there are several ways to distinguish one from the other.

I think this was known in the 90s, because I remember being thrilled when I rewatched the 1995 X-Files episode with the cannibals who ran a chicken plant, and Scully referenced one of the signs of cannibalism I had researched for my paper - namely "pot polishing," where the ends of long bones show a distinctive rounding on the ends from being stirred in a pot.

Actually, on further googling, this Science article from 1997 talks about how rigorous scholarship on cannibalism in the fossil record was pretty nonexistent before the 1980s and was still controversial (though growing less so) by the time the article was written.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:00 PM on November 1, 2018


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