The other day, friends and I were discussing the topic of organic and free range food. The main idea behind this is that certain foods and animals are farmed organically, and allowed to roam free, nibbling on whatever they can find in addition to their normal feeding program. Everything is natural, no hormones, steroids or pesticides are used. The produce of this way of farming is then also considered healthier and to some tastier, safer on the environment and more socially responsible. Well I tried some free range lamb chops the other day, and I don’t know what shit the lamb nibbled on, but I didn’t like the taste of it. So naturally, I thought if animals taste different if they eat different foods, wouldn’t humans do too? And if I ever were forced to, for whatever reason, would I be able to taste the difference?
No, I am not advocating cannibalism, but just think about it. In 1972 with the Andes Flight Disaster 16 survivors faced starvation and were stranded for 72 days before being rescued. Facing starvation and fighting to stay alive the survivors eventually started eating their dead fellow passengers. Similar cases have also been documented in our recent past where cannibalism occurred out of necessity, although not many of the people involved are willing to admit to it. As disgusting as eating your mate seems, the reality is that this could also happen to you! With this thought in mind I started asking myself some serious and peculiar questions.
Should I be in a plane crash and survive, would I be willing to cross that line? Well, I don’t know, but this spiked my interest and led me to question the following. Once the repulsion of having to eat another human being is replaced with desperation and hunger, would a vegetarian passenger taste different from a vegan, an healthy meat eating person taste different from a diabetic, and would Caucasians’ meat be tougher or more tender than that of an Asian? Would homosexuals be fruitier than heterosexual people? Men taste better than women? Would South Africans be less or more fatty than Americans?
Naturally if animals’ taste differs due to what they are fed, surely humans would too. Contemplate this for a moment. In all countries there are different types of department stores whose products differ vastly in quality and price. Some sell top-of-the-range imported fresh produce, organically farmed vegetables and the meat of animals that lived stress free lives, were pampered and fed only the best. Then there are stores that sell products of lesser quality and the meat of animals that were sent to their deaths screaming in questionable abattoirs. The more affluent in society will opt for the more expensive stores and normal working class folk for the affordable ones, so will you be able to taste the difference between the rich, working class and the poor? Would the rich passengers taste like Wagyu steaks and the working class like rib eye?
Working from the assumption that people would taste different due to their social standing, culinary preferences, race and general health, would this influence your pick in dinner? After the plane has crashed and you survived, what would the next step be? I would assume that the dead passengers would have to be organized and categorized, and the best specimens clearly marked and preserved for once all the airplane food runs out. Now I have no idea how to prepare and cook a person, but one thing is for sure – if I am ever faced with a situation as dire as this I will have to be served the food with condiments, spices and booze. But what goes with human?
Well, I can only assume that garlic, rosemary, cloves, bay leaves and any other strong herb will have to be used. I don’t want to think that we would taste like venison or pork, but in all probability we will taste like chicken. After all whenever anyone eats anything strange and is later asked what it tasted like, they inevitably say CHICKEN. So some sage and thyme would be essential. I guess as time passes and the survivors eat their way through the rich, poor, vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, heterosexuals, homosexuals, Caucasians, Asians, Blacks and whatever other race was on the menu, each individual temporary cannibal would identify their favorite. My favorite meat is lamb, maybe in that situation it would be an Indian Vegan or a Caucasian Vegetarian with high blood pressure. Again I hope I never have to find out!
All your French and Italian culinary skills would be tested to the limit in case of such a tragedy. For one, I suspect there would not be many tools to cook with and unless you have a former Survivor cast member on your doomed flight who survived, in all probability you won’t have any fire as well. Secondly, I don’t think there are any classes in human meat preparation apart from anatomy classes in Medical School, so unless you were unfortunate enough to have a cannibalistic serial killer on board, whom have had some prior practice in this field, you won’t have any prime cut meat for dinner. And if you do, chances are good that you may not live much longer anyway.
As so many of us will be travelling to our respective holiday destinations throughout the year, flying out to be with our families and some even travelling by boat, just remember the Andes Disaster and always be ready for the unexpected. You never know when or where you may be marooned and you may have to prepare and eat your mate, fellow passengers and/or your captain. So the next time I board a flight I will be sure to be packing some extra condiments and spices and if you are sitting next to me and you wonder why I ask about your health and eating habits, now you know why.
Bon Appétit! Till Next Time!