Those who follow me on various social sites are often reminded, from time to time, why that might be a bad thing. Such as yesterday when I finished cooking my maple syrup + soy sauce ham and I remarked on Twitter/Facebook: "If the theories that human flesh tastes like pork are true, I have created an awesome recipe for cooking your neighbors. Mmmmm..."
I mean, it was pretty good ham. I ate way too much. Then I thought, you know, if the theory that human flesh is close to ham is true, you would probably have a whole lot of missing people during economic problems. That struck me as morbid, and so I edited it.
Where I first heard the theory, I am not sure, but I think it had to do with some religious rules and how they may have had surprisingly secular origins. The author wondered if maybe pork is so hated because it was close to human flesh. I later found out, partially through Layscience's "What Does Human Flesh Taste Like?" that there is something like consensus on the subject, though I'd be willing to be this consensus is more of a meme than something actually proven. People saying "I heard it tastes like pork!" getting passed around. All we have actually confirmed is that a bunch of people have heard that tastes like pork.
I began thinking, how would we test this theory in something like an ethical manner? Something that would not cause too large a public outcry. Eating babies is out. Eating aborted fetuses is out. Besides, much like eggs do not taste like chicken, I do not think it would answer the question.
Test Method #1 - Cannibal Surveys: There are a number of people right now who have tasted the product. Let's ask them in some sort of controlled manner. Just get them to discuss things about texture and flavor. Maybe what sort of wine they would recommend to go with a plate. What spices are good? What kind of soup would human broth best flavor? Then run some cross calculations and see to which meats their description is closest? This method is troubled by the fact that good number of full-flesh, "civilized" cannibals are possibly insane, and probably have god complexes and such (read: our pathetic tastebuds would be a point of their disdain). Those cannibals who eat human flesh for more ritual reasons (tribal cannibals), usually focus on blood and certain organs, I think. Not sure how many actually eat the flank meat, which is what we would be interested in. If you can find a cannibal who is not convinced he is your god and has actually tried a nice "Boston Butt", then the problem might be solved. Assuming, of course, that human tastes are not subjective. Too bad they are.
Test Method #2 - The Double-Blind Method: Let us do a double blind test of sorts. We take a group of ten people who are ok with eating some huamn flesh, and we take a piece of flesh ethically obtained: a car crash amputee or such. We mix up a plate of human, beef, fish, pork, chicken, lamb, and venison and we let the people eat and try to identify the meat. Maybe different people get different combinations. If someone regularly confuses human flesh for something else, it starts to show up as something like a positive match.
Test Method #3 - Self Testing: One of the big roadblocks to the research is obtaining product. Possibly allow some volunteers, maybe amputees and the like. to see what they personally taste like? No, that's kind of weird.
Test Method #4 - Put Evolution to Work: As cute as pigs are, and as many weird coincidences there are between us and pigs when it comes to some organs, insulin, flesh density and the like; let's be honest: they are not our closest relatives. The good old chimp is so close that most evolutionary scientists think they are our "brothers", descendents from the same species as us, basically an offshoot of what we came from. There is a lot of difference between the pan and the homo but that's the closest we are going to get.
Test Method #5 - Chemical Analysis: There has to be something that makes pork taste like pork, beef taste like beef, and so on. With some study, we could probably separate sodium and potassium and various hormones and what they have to do with the various flesh of beasts. With that study in hand, we drop in a bit of the old human and we see how it matches to the chart.
Test method #6 - Burn Test: You can tell when pork is cooking, and when fish is cooking, and kind of when chicken and beef are cooking. Dozens of people are cremated every minute. Why not a) do this to them in the nude and b) have someone nearby to see what the smell is? Sure, that person might have nightmares for some time to come, but they will have nightmares for science!
What is my theory? Mostly that we do not taste quite like anything, but thinking of human's high sodium and relatively high sugar diet, I bet pork is pretty close. Somewhere between pork and venison. One big problem here is the fact that humans have varied diets. A real big reason that beef tastes like beef and chicken like chicken is becasue we limit most domestic farm animals down to a small range of foods. Try wild kill venison and notice how some of the animals taste like straight animal musk and some have a sort of sweet flesh to them. Fish are the same way, depending on their food supply, fish can taste anywhere from sweet to salty to mud. I am talking about the same breed. Humans, with our varied diets and varied excersise levels, are going to probably range greatly in flavor.
Now that I have freaked out all of my readers, I will return you to normally scheduled programming.
Si Vales, Valeo
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Written by Doug Bolden
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