Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Boogers – Factoid #4

Okay, after yesterday’s… and the day before… post, I am sick (literally) of buggy facts. So today is a bug-free factoid!

Today, I wanted to post the answer to a question most of us have asked at least once in our lives.

What does human flesh taste like?

In 1972, survivors of a Uruguayan plane crash were stranded in the Andes. To avoid starvation, they decided to eat the flesh of fellow passengers killed in the accident. After they were rescued, survivors said that they had cooked the meat briefly and “the slight browning of the flesh gave it an immeasurably better flavor – softer than beef but with much the same taste.”

However, infamous murderer Arthur Shawcross, who took the lives of eleven women in New York from 1989 to 1990, said cooked human flesh tastes like a nice roast pork.

Whether human flesh tastes like pork or beef, the fact remains that it can be dangerous to partake of such a diet. In the 1960s, there were epidemic levels of a rare and fatal brain disorder called kuru among the Fore (pronounced for-ay) tribespeople who lived in the highlands of Papau New Guinea. Many of them died from kuru during this period, and their deaths are thought to have been caused by the transmission of a virus-like particle, through the tribal practice of cannibalism.

Traditionally, when a member of the group died, he or she would be dissected and wrapped, and then steamed in a fire. During the funeral the brain would be presented to the closest female relative, and she and her children would be given the honor of eating it. Unfortunately, the virus-like particle which causes kuru is found in highest concentration in the brain. Consequently, the Fore’s traditional rites were the key factor in the spread of this disease.

The tribespeople believed that kuru was caused by sorcery and could not be convinced that it was due to eating human remains. However, despite this, most of them did stop eating human body parts once they were ordered to do so by police and threatened with imprisonment. Once the cannibalism was stopped, the disease also abated.

Fritz Haarmann (1879-1925) became known as the “Butcher of Hanover” and was thought to have been responsible for the deaths of up to fifty boys and men. After Germany’s First World War defeat, Haarmann opened a butcher’s shop The shop prospered, mainly because he sold cheap, fresh meat at a time of great hunger when meat was scarce. After attacking and killing his victims, Haarmann would chop up their bodies and make them into sausage meat, which he cooked and served to his favorite customers. In 1924, a woman who had bought some of his beef became suspicious and contacted the police. The meat was sent to an expert analyst, who somehow concluded that the meat was in fact pork! Nonetheless, the police eventually found grisly evidence for twenty-seven of the murders, and Haarman was sentenced to death by beheading.

Discussions around our dinner table while I was growing up got around to this topic from time to time. Often, when my working mom was asked “what’s for dinner?” for the twenty-seventh time of the evening, she would irritably replay “Long Pork” and give us the stink-eye.

But is it pork? or is it beef, like the the Andes crash survivor’s said? Issei Sagawa, the son of a wealthy Tokyo industrialist, said it had no smell or taste, but rather melted in his mouth like raw tuna. I, personally, am not willing to find out.

For more info on cannibalizing serial killers, visit Cannibals Anonymous. Some of the info is creepy (okay, all of it), and after a few bites of stories, you definitely get your fill, but it is a buffet of abnormal psych laid out in a most palatable fashion.  I never knew there was such a variety of psychopaths!  😉

This post is part of the Boogers and Book Bucks Giveaway. Don’t forget to enter at the original post for your official entry. Comments here count as a bonus entry 😀

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7 Responses

  1. Oh, how nasty! The guy who baked parts of humans into his food makes me think of Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd!

    -Lauren

  2. I think I’d rather read about bugs.

  3. I would never want to find out, but considering the amounts of junk food and all the chemicals (unknown to us) that we eat, I always figured human flesh would be very bad tasting.

    On another note, I recently studied the Fore tribe for a sociology course on North Americans who try to “socialize” tribal peoples to “the human way of life”. What we learned was that the scientists taking part in the study of the Fore people, did not approve of their funeral preparations and subsequently were shunned by the Fores. Which led to much information being misrepresented in the final study results.
    Anyways the rampant spread of Kuru was actually supposed to be from the women not bathing during the long rituals, which makes sense – you cut up some chicken for supper, don’t wash your hands, touch your other food – voila – salmonella poisoning!

    Sorry for blabbing on – just an interesting fact about how we “civilized” people get the wrong ideas about different cultures. lol 🙂

  4. Yep, I’m with bermudaonion. I prefer bugs to human flesh. Joanne makes an interesting point about chemicals and fats and things. Would an American be less tasty or more tasty than, say, a German?

  5. Sorry – this idea is just so horrible to me, I couldn’t keep reading. I don’t WANT to know what it tastes like…. please, bring back the bugs!!!

  6. Like Lauren, I thought of Sweeney Todd as well!

  7. oh the sheer number of quotes in my head from Silence… sigh*

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