Casaubon's Book

Liked this bit from The Onion:

And it’s not like it’s actually against the law, at least I’m pretty sure it isn’t. Oh, maybe it’s against some really antiquated laws in certain old New England towns from, like, the 18th century or something. But that’s my point: Would anyone today even care if we changed some old, archaic rule? A few people might instinctively be upset about it purely because they’ve been told since they were little that it’s not okay to do that, but would anyone actually have a good argument against it other than that? I guess people just do what they’re told without asking questions.

Now, in fairness, I’m pretty sure it’s okay to eat a human child if you want. You can’t eat an elderly person, or a normal adult, but you can definitely eat a kid, or at least it’s not as discouraged. I’m fairly certain that’s how it works. Child meat is more tender or something, I guess.

Hey, what if that’s it? What if the one guy in history that tried to eat another person cooked it all wrong and it came out weird and chewy? Wouldn’t that be a dumb reason to not eat people? Maybe he didn’t try braising human flesh and that’s the best way to eat them. Or maybe it’s fried. I mean there could be hundreds of cooking techniques or spices that are more suitable with human flesh that we will never know about. Also, I kind of like chewy food.

Besides the Prion Diseases, it is mostly just those pesky table manners – I mean how would you know WHEN you can eat the other people with you?  Does it have to be after you run out of other food?  Is it ever polite to eat your host?  Are fingers a finger food?

Actually, if you haven’t read _The Rituals of Dinner_ by the amazing Margaret Visser, you really should. It is a wonderful, serious (but also quite funny) book that begins from the larger point that most of our table manners are in some measure ways of reminding ourselves of the taboo against cannibalism.  Well worth a read.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Russell
    March 13, 2013

    Do we come after the fish course , before the antipasti, or get saved as a a savoury until after dessert ? Brace yourselves for a wave of vegetarian cannibal cookbooks if the onion piece goes viral

  2. #2 Andy Brown
    http://anubisbard.blogspot.com/
    March 13, 2013

    When I was in India, the street pigs were near the bottom of the garbage-eating totem pole. Poor people and cows got first pickings, carrion birds second, really poor people third and then the pigs, who seemed to eat just straight filth. I decided not to eat any pork while I was there. I’ve seen what most Americans eat here, and likewise I don’t think I’d sample the “long pig” if it came up on the menu.

  3. #3 Sarah in Oz
    March 14, 2013

    I’ve always been puzzled by the taboo on eating people. Not on killing them – that makes perfect sense, but on eating them once they’re dead, particularly in survival situations. If my dead body is the means of someone else surviving the plane crash – please, help yourself. But, historically at least it’s a strong taboo – look at the outcry when Franklin’s expedition to find the Northwest Passage was eventually found with evidence that some of the expeditioners had butchered their dead colleagues. I can only assume it stems from Christian beliefs about the resurrection of the body and it needing to be whole, in a similar way that cremation used to be prohibited for Catholics.

  4. #4 Brad K.
    Ponca City, OK
    March 15, 2013

    @ Sarah in Oz,

    There is a certain amount of tie-in, there. People, or animals, that die of “natural causes” are seldom the best choice for a useful product. Accident victims, maybe — but you have to discard much even then. You will have to discard much of a road kill pheasant or deer. An animal that dies of stress (from injury, starvation, or age) will seldom be good to eat, and if death is from illness we don’t use the carcass at all, at least not for people food.

    Then consider the identity thing. Here in midwest America, surrounded by farms and ranches, families have to deal with kids that won’t eat the family pig. “Oh, I traded ours with the neighbor down the road, so we are eating *their* pig. (wink, wink).”

    For me, I think I will skip the “long pig”, as the pirate stories refer to it. (Monty Python – http://youtu.be/rFDgSKbapzY)

    But, then, for the stringy parts, I imagine either a slow roast (a new slant on “we got the pig in the ground, we got the beer on ice, and all my rowdy friends are coming over tonight” thing. What if this refers to a new-ly dug grave? Anyway.) or pressure cooker could help.

  5. #5 Victor
    http://readmas.ru/mir/goroda-i-strany/turciya.html
    April 24, 2013

    What i do not realize is in fact how you are no longer actually a lot more well-preferred than you might be right now. You’re so intelligent.

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