Thoughts of a Cannibal as a Respectable Foodie

by ern modern

THE EATING OF HUMAN FLESH is usually never an act of surprise. And frankly this is the root of all misunderstandings, feigned aversions, consuming prudishness, and universal turn-of-the-stomach disgust regarding cannibalism. Let me explain.

The first time I ate human (Homo Sapiens Sapiens), it came in the form of a severed index finger stewed to buggery in bowl of chicken pot pie of a well-known fast-food restaurant. The flesh was tender and the bone soft, easily yielding to the crunch of my molars. The gravy itself was insipid. But was ever a better case made for the Slow-Cooked Food movement. I took my time savoring my meal (I was digitally engaged). There is something intuitively satisfying about licking your fingers after eating one. I made sure to save the nail-end of the finger as evidence for my million-dollar trial against the restaurant. That might seem ungrateful of me to sue. But a respectable foodie never turns down a chance to recast a trite food idiom while mixing metaphors. And that is how I came to have my finger in too many pies and eating it, too.

All too often cannibalism is a desperate act of survival. And that can only leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Take the Donner Party. After all those days holed up against the drifting snow and cold, with nary a hope of surviving the winter, starving to half to death, you'd think that anything and everything would be tasty, a welcome distraction from eating shoe leather. But starvation does nothing for the taste of flesh. Every chef worth his salt will tell you that fat tastes good. Even my well-trained stomach would revolt at having to eat such wiry, lean meat (satay); mushily shrunken liver (pate); or stressed-out heart (salad). Eating badly in desperate times is traumatic. It is not just a recipe for disaster; it IS disaster. No doubt this is why survivors, having indulged in cannibalism, bad-mouth the whole experience. And so the myths and misinformation perpetuate themselves to another generation. The press, quick to exploit the situation, does not help. Cannibalism is always getting a raw deal, even when fire-cooked.

Having turned your thoughts to the art (and it is an art) of eating human flesh, you may wish to know which body part tastes best. What is the best cut? Would I rather have roasted shank of arm or fried panko-breaded human sweetbread? Of course this is a very personal question. It is after all, like all things gustatory, a matter of taste. But human is not so different from horse. The real problem is a matter of availability. As respectable foodie, you should never source your own meat. You may not wear a bowtie like mine, or wear both suspenders and belt (double wardrobe protection), but we can agree that murder and contract killing is beyond the pale of good manners.

Trying to re-enact the Donner Party or the trials of shipwrecked whaling boat aimlessly asea is rather quaint, but as noted above, off-putting. And dangerous. You do not want to put yourself in a situation when you can end up the meal, instead of the other way around (rule of the jungle). Did you say, "Grave digging"? That is hard work, and the meat unreliable. Besides, never trust a mortician with the body. What you need is a good, dependable dealer in the medical services, someone who won't mind turning a car accident into someone's fine meal. But like going to a Green Market or Food Co-op, you never know which cut of meat you will be getting — and you never know when. You need to be prepared and be a good cook. Always keep a sharp knife around.

Like pedophiles, we cannibals have a taste for young flesh — in a different way. (Really, I didn't even want to bring up this point of comparison with such filthy predators because I know it will be misinterpreted. But the foodie cum writer in me can never leave a bad penny of a simile unturned.) Not surprisingly, tender is the flesh of the young. And you can't have too much of yummy baby fat. The irony is that babies do not mind eating human. Is mother's milk not human protein?

So why as adults should you ever hesitate to supplement your diet with more varieties of human meat? It is ecologically sound — literally negating our own carbon footprint — and surprisingly comforting.

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