“If you’ve never had human flesh before, think of the taste and texture of beef, except a little sweeter in taste and a little softer in texture. Contrary to popular belief, humans do not taste like pork or chicken.” Anonymous
Cannibalism has gone back tens of thousands of years and is still present today. In 2013, a North Korean man was executed for killing his children for food. In Nigeria, I am told there are a few communities that still believe in eating human meat as a cultural practice.
Some people are said to be obsessed about eating human meat. Many of such cannibals have been arrested by security agents in various parts of the country particularly in the South West and South East. These people have been described as schizophrenic and mentally ill.
Nigeria is not alone in this bizarre adventure. To be in denial that this type of thing does not happen all over the world would be foolish.
That brings us to the social media reports last week of the shocking discovery in China that some firms produce corned beef with their dead bodies and send the produced corned beef to us, Africans, to eat. The story goes on to advice everybody in Africa to stay away from corned beef for now. (see photos)
But China is not the first culprit and may not be the last. Not long ago, customers of McDonald’s fast food restaurants were alarmed to hear that human meat ( from children) was found in the company’s factory.
Immediately, they began to ask questions. How long has McDonalds been using this human meat? Where did they get the children from? Were they already dead when brought into the factories?
McDonald’s history is not a good one, and fast food restaurants already are known to have a lot of mystery ingredients, but this and China’s, top the list. Previously, there was a web report that detailed disturbing audio admissions by a man that claimed McDonald’s uses human meat as a filler in their 100% beef hamburgers and the fact that McDonald’s has been accused of using worm meat fillers. According to Huzler, forensics investigators have allegedly found human meat and horse meat in the freezer’s of an Oklahoma City McDonald’s meat factory. Human meat was also recovered in several trucks that were on their way to deliver the patties to the fast food restaurants. Forensics investigators inspected factories and restaurants across the country and found human meat in 90% of the locations. Horse meat was found in 65% of the locations. FBI agent Lloyd Harrison told Huzler reporters, “The worst part is that it’s not only human meat, it’s child meat. The body parts were found across the US factories and were deemed too small to be adult body parts. This is truly horrible”. Till date, we are still awaiting the final forensic DNA report.
But come to think of it, what is the attraction in eating human meat and how does it taste? Above all, why will a human being want to eat another’s meat when there are other marvelous creatures by God?
I am told that there is one form of human meat that’s considered acceptable to eat. Many people choose to eat the placenta after childbirth, a practice known as “placentophagy”. To prepare it, those familiar with the practice said you need to remove the umbilical cord and membrane, and then treat it in a similar fashion to liver, which according to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is roughly what the result tastes like. “You can chop it up and fry it, or mince it to make quite a rich Bolognese. That’s all very lovely. But like the liver, the placenta probably doesn’t have the general taste of human flesh.
Unfortunately, the world is now turning into that of cannibals. I remember vividly one of Germany’s most infamous citizens, the cannibal Armin Meiwes. Having eaten an estimated 20kg of his victim, Meiwes is something of an expert on the subject, and in an interview from his prison cell he was more than happy to explain the taste: “The flesh tastes like pork, a little bit more bitter, stronger. It tastes quite good.”
Does his opinion tally with the experiences of other Western cannibals? Let’s consider the case of William Buehler Seabrook, a journalist with the New York Times who traveled extensively in West Africa about a century ago. Fascinated with the concept of cannibalism, he persuaded a medical intern at the Sorbonne (the University of Paris) to give him a chunk of human meat from the body of a healthy man killed in an accident, which he cooked and ate, describing it as follows:
“It was like good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef. It was very definitely like that, and it was not like any other meat I had ever tasted. It was so nearly like good, fully developed veal that I think no person with a palate of ordinary, normal sensitiveness could distinguish it from veal. It was mild, good meat with no other sharply defined or highly characteristic taste such as for instance, goat, high game, and pork have.”
There was also the story of Pole Karl Denke, a devout, peaceful, generally respected citizen of Ziębice who as a cannibal killed 40 people before his arrest (and immediate suicide) in 1924. He pickled their flesh in jars and sold it on the Wrocław market as pork.
The same tactic was allegedly employed by Fritz Haarmann, a German who killed at least 24 people in Hanover, generally male prostitutes whose throats he bit while sodomising them. He was said to have also sold his victims as pork on the black market. He was beheaded in 1925.
Another German serial killer, Karl Grossman was arrested in 1921 having enthusiastically murdered his way through the Great War. He sold the meat from the estimated 50 women he killed on the black market, and even ran a hot dog stand where he offloaded the flesh, throwing the inedible remnants in a nearby river.
In all the instances including the ongoing China episode, there is a consistency – certainly the cannibals seemed to have considered human meat closer to pork or beef, and indeed close enough that they were happy to label it as such when selling it to unfortunate members of the public through the meat markets, restaurants and hot dog stands. But let me warn, please stay away from corned beef irrespective of brand, most especially in Africa and from Afro-Asian grocery shops.