LIBBY Copeland reviews Bill Schutt’s new book, Cannibalism, for Slate. We recall the cannibalism of the soccer team whose plane crashed in the Andes. In Stephen King’s The Shining there’s reference to the Donner party, which dined on each other when they were lost in a snowstorm. In China, an edict of 205 B.C. allowed Chinese to exchange one’s another’s kids, so the kids could be eaten by non-relatives. And human flesh was regarded as a delicacy by the Chinese elite. (So let’s think carefully about substituting the supremacy of an America far away for a partnership with China within cooking distance.)
In famines and scarcity Chinese children would slice off their own flesh and prepared it in a soup for elders. Most commonly consumed was part of the thigh, and, I suppose, just a part of the upper arm. If the entire upper arm, the lower part would be not only useless it would fall off if grandpa wanted bulalo. The eyeball was banned by imperial edict in 1216.
British royalty and the British rich drank “concoctions prepared from human body parts.” English epileptics flocked to public beheadings to lap up the blood on the chopping block. Schutt himself went to Texas to take up the offer of a mother of 10 to eat her placenta which tasted like veal.
But Spaniards, as Catholics and conscious of the Last Judgment when the dead shall rise again, did not want to resurrect on the last day not as one but 2 or more people by eating others. However, being smart, Spaniards accused of cannibalism peoples who never practiced it as an excuse to exploit them despite Catholic strictures against slavery.
In the insect world, the female red-back spider is bigger than the male. When they copulate the large female starts eating the small male then spits an acid on it. Offended, the male walks away half-eaten. But stupid he comes back for more. By then the acid has liquefied his insides, which the female sucks out of him “like a slurpee,” says Schutt.
The theory of evolution says all creatures share a single origin. Somewhere inside us there is a bit of spider. Women may have inherited eating in bed—and men the stupidity of their prey.
There you go, guys, don’t say you haven’t been warned.
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