The Other White Meat
by: Tristan Risk "Little Miss Risk"
I’m a blissfully unrepentant foodie. I love food - the taste, presentation, the cooking process and all of the magic that weaving together individual components. But like so many things in life, there are people who get too damned carried away with the whole thing. Starting in the 1950s when food additives became a North American cultural rage post-Depression era, we have gotten into this habit of looking for the next taste sensation. Frankly, we’ve just gotten damn weird about it. I have experienced snorting chocolate, drank coffee brewed from beans passed through a wild cat’s digestive tract and eaten sea urchin - a creature that lives off of the lowest form of life on the ocean floor and tastes like it. But people are going off of the deep end (and I’m not referring to poutine-flavoured potato chips here…)
Human breast milk for example. It has gone a change from a source of life and nourishment for future generations to a taste Event Horizon. All it took for it to tip that balance was for one person wondering, ‘But what does that taste like… It’s been a while’. A nursing friend of mine this summer told me how she had people offering to buy her breastmilk for everything from fetish reasons to culinary explorations. I am among the numbers that have had breast milk pass my adult lips. We were away in the Yukon doing a single-night engagement with a friend who was breast feeding her young son at the time. Despite pumping between sets, her breasts got fuller and fuller, which threw a number of people who, by the end of the show, must be questioning their sanity about the growing breasts. She continued to express, and in the morning had filled up a number of the hotel’s complimentary cups. She asked if anyone wanted it and all eyes fell on me.
What can I say? I came to win.
As a fitness enthusiast, I have always enjoyed eating marrow and the benefits that have come with it. My friend is a picture of health, vegetarian, eats only organic. After drinking the beverage, I felt ready to tear a phonebook in half. but given her clean living choices, her free-range roving and the fact that it was ethically obtained (I gotta pump that shit, or they’ll blow!) I consumed it guilt-free. Then I got wind of the fetishists who are into it, and the foodies who have gone the next level and begun to make cheese from human breast milk.
That was officially the beginning of the end of me. I had crossed a line into consuming from my own kind. My mind started to wonder about those strange little questions that pop into our heads and plague us. The penultimate question for extreme foodies world wide… that final forbidden. What do people taste like?
Contemporary cannibals in interviews have said that our meat tastes like everything ranging from slightly older veal to a ‘goat-like’ taste. The general consensus has been, by large, that we taste like anything from pork to beef, so I would say that lifestyle factors might be a thing to take into consideration here. If you had, say, a person who had a healthy lifestyle, didn’t smoke or do drugs, then your subject would likely have a different flavour than a coked-up 20 something party animal with a penchant for vodka and face drugs, perhaps.
if human was dressed in the manner that beef is prior to butchering and divvied up, an arm would be 1800 calories. The average human heart could net a hefty 722 calories. For comparison, a grande pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks with whole milk and whipped cream is 420 calories… so that gives some perspective. Human heart - it’s what’s for breakfast, but before we get all kali-ma about it, it should be noted that from a caloric point of view, we don’t actually provide that many calories. A horse would contain and estimated 200,000 calories whereas the 81,000 that would come from a adult. A large portion of that comes from our adipose tissue, so that would count for just the most appetizing parts.
While taboo, it’s nothing new. Our ancestors had a habit of engaging in it for various reasons, both social and ritualistic for anything from initiations to intimidations, as well as for protein and food when needed which usually falls to the other end of the spectrum, when food supplies were low. While in popular culture the image of the so-called cultural cannibal is on the lower end versus the gastronomic cannibalisim of nessesity. Cut marks on bones found on our early hominids relations in cave sites in Burgos, east of Spain show similar patterns on the bones of other animals, also consumed for food, so like everything else, everything old is new again.
Janice Poon has taken it to the next level - the set designer for Hannibal was tasked with the tall order of making all of the food look believable for the show. When asked what meat most resembled human, she remarked pork. So, spoiler alert: we look like pork and taste like it, or beef. Which, if people were interested in trying cannibalisim, might do one of two things. On the one hand, it might create a revulsion where our tastebud recognize the taste of the flesh of our own kind similar to that of animals regularly consumed, and a growing empathic horror to the plight of animals in industrialized farming, or else it will spark a crazy addiction to the taste of our own kind. Which, would unleash upon us, the living zombie hordes, and human trafficking would be a literal meat market. I’ll never forget my converted vegan friends when asked the hardest thing to give up was bacon, and that upon smelling it, they really have to work to resist eating it. Given this person’s moral fibre, I generally think that it’s perhaps for the best that we aren’t getting a taste for this - given our species reputation of large scale additions. In the meantime, I’m planning on drinking more coffee to make my own flesh bitter and unpalatable, for even the most adventuresome taste-seeker.