An American adventurer who tasted human flesh back in the 1920s when he was looking to create a detailed record of societies which still had cannibalistic practices revealed that the taste of human flesh was "just like veal".
American adventurer William Buehler Seabrook wrote of his experiences in his book 'Jungle Ways' published in 1931.
AdvertisementThe account follows his travels in West Africa, where he spent time with the Guero people, and joined them as they feasted on human meat.
The author observed that the raw flesh looked like beef but less red and with pale yellow fat. Once cooked it turned grey and smelled like beef.
"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," the Daily Mail quoted him as writing.
Seabrook's account is regarded as unreliable by many, because he later confessed Guero tribesmen refused to let him take part in their tradition - bizarrely claiming he made up for the disappointment by obtaining the body of a dead hospital patient in France and cooking it on a spit.
But experts regard his description as the most useful - because most commentaries on cannibalism come from the criminally insane and are often contradictory.
German killer Armin Meiwes insisted human flesh tastes like pork, "but a little bit more bitter, stronger."
While Japanese cannibal Issei Sagawa described it as "tender and soft" like tuna.
The survivors of the 1970 Andes plane crash, portrayed in the movie Alive, were forced to eat their fellow passengers to survive - but insist in their accounts the frozen flesh was flavourless.
Cannibalism is rare and is not illegal in most countries. People who eat human flesh are usually charged with crimes not relating to cannibalism, such as murder or desecration of a body.
The Korowai - an ethnic group of about 3,000 people in New Guinea - are one of very few tribes still believed to eat human flesh as a cultural practice.
It is also still known to be practised as a ritual and in war in various Melanesian tribes. Melanesia is an island region immediately north and northeast of Australia.
"When I ate my first piece, it had no taste. I forced myself to swallow - without guilt. I was eating to live," survivor Nando Parrado said.
Those who have tried to unearth the truth about the taste of human flesh point out the flavour is likely to vary - based on the age of the victim, the body part eaten and the method of cooking.
"Cannibals have told anthropologists that human meat is sweet, bitter, tender, tough, and fatty. The variation may result from disparate styles of cookery," an article on Slate.com said.
"Many tribes eat the meat of deceased humans only after it has rotted slightly. Roasting and stewing seem to predominate, with many tribes throwing in hot peppers or other seasonings.
"Rudy Eugene, the attacker in Florida, ate his victim's face.The Swedish cannibal went for only the lips, while a Tokyo man reportedly cooked and served his genitals to the highest bidders.
"Cannibalistic tribes show a similar diversity. Seabrook's West African cannibals preferred the loin, rump, ribs, and palms, which were considered especially tender. Cannibals in 19th-century Fiji reportedly preferred the heart, thigh, and upper arm. Other tribes apparently held the breasts of young women in high esteem," it added.
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