One Man’s Meat
On Sunday mornings, as I fix my one extravagant breakfast of the week, I frequently watch “CBS Sunday Morning” for some light and informative entertainment. I was on the same schedule a few weeks ago. Having prepared and eaten my scrumptious fare of sausage, scrambled eggs, and raspberry pancakes, I began to clean up the kitchen.
The water was on and filling the sink as I shuffled pans and utensils and placed bowls and plates in the dishwasher. I was still listening to the TV as host Charles Osgood announced the upcoming segment, “Barbecue, Human Style.” Whoa! Barbecue—human style??!!! What’s going on here? Are we being introduced to the latest, if questionable— or even illegal—culinary trend?
I realize there are real barbecue devotees out there in search of the ultimate gustatory grilling experience but this seemed a bit over the top. If CBS execs are sending news crews to remote, primitive cultures to research cannibal cuisine they must be really hungry for a story. Surely by now cannibalism has pretty much gone the way of witch burnings and human sacrifice. Or could it be there is some weird cult here in the good ole U.S. of A. with extremely macabre initiation rites? On the other hand, maybe the sushi crowd has exhausted its taste (?) for raw fish and is demanding more exotic fare.
According to It’s a Weird World* by Paul Stirling Hagerman, someone has produced a scientific study (probably funded by a federal grant—Don’t you just love how intellectually curious our government officials are?) on the nutritional value of cannibalism. In this report the experts postulate that, if “skillfully butchered” the body of a 150-pound man would yield 90 pounds of edible muscle, enough to feed “a sit-down dinner for 75 people.” (pp. 64-65)
To paraphrase: Give a man a (raw) fish and he’ll eat sushi for a day but teach him to cook his brother and he’ll feed an entire village.
The idea of human barbecue set my brain a-whirl trying to imagine the menu for the next family reunion or tail-gate party. For an appetizer you could serve an assortment of finger foods, of course. To go along with the recently deceased’s ribs and your favorite barbecue sauce you could serve head cheese, elbow macaroni, muscles on the half-shell, hot cross buns with toe jam, chestnuts, and kidney beans. The beverage of choice: What else? Bloody Marys. Top off this repast with ladyfingers for dessert. Or perhaps navel oranges for the diet conscious. This has got to be hand-to-mouth dining at its most outrageous.
Don’t Expect a Tip
It was beginning to dawn on me that a meal like this would be enough to give any cannibal heartburn, if not a full blown heart attack, when the commercial break ended and I heard the affable Charles Osgood, introducing the much anticipated report with, “Barbecue, Cuban Style.”
What?!! “Barbecue, Cuban Style!” Not human, but Cuban? No cannibals? No guy on a grill? No dame all a-flame? No tot in a pot? What a rook! What about my brilliant barbecue bill of fare? It was all just a fluke of audio distortion? Oh, well, that’s okay. I was out of Pepto Bismol anyway.
©2012, The Wit’s End Scribbler
*New York: Sterling Publishing, 1990.