Human Flavor, Alzheimer's & X-Rays

Hey, Matt!

Last night I was reading Silence of the Lambs, and it got me wondering. When humans are cooked up, are they more like beef or pork? Not that I ever plan on finding out the hard way. But someone has to know. Thanks.

— Anonymous, via email

Great! Here’s a chance for Grandma Alice to contribute. Hey, Grandma. C’mere. We’ve got a question for you.

“Matthew, I’m right in the middle of my Colorado lamb in pomegranate, merlot, and balsamic reduction with mango chutney and baby greens garnish, with a peach- and raspberry-glazed panna cotta for the block party today. Can’t it wait?”

Naw. C’mere. You’ll be glad you did. This is right up your alley.

“Okay. What is it now? It’s always something with you.”

Somebody wants to know what human flesh tastes like.

“What!? Human flesh? Oh, Matthew! Why would I know that?”

Well, you know all about cooking.

“This isn’t cooking, it’s ghoulishness! Is this some kind of Halloween prank?”

Naw. It’s legit. The guy wants to know.

“Well, um, if it will make you go away, maybe I did do a little reading up on it once.”

I knew it! I knew it. You’re the man, Grandma. So give us the news.

“Well, we can forget the old joke about chicken. Nobody’s ever said people taste like chicken. And, of course, there is the popular urban legend that people taste like pork. Who knows where that story came from. Probably the National Beef Council. That’s baloney, according to my sources. Um, people don’t taste like baloney, either. Sorry if I confused you.

“Anthropologists have spent a lot of time quizzing cannibal tribes about the taste of humans. To those who eat us, people taste sweet. Black people taste sweeter than whites. Old people are tough and stringy, so young people are preferred, if they have a choice. But most of the folks on the cannibals’ menu are enemy warriors, so the meat is pretty tough. Choice cuts are the ribs, loin, and butt, though one cannibal said he finds the palm of the hand to be particularly succulent. One anthropologist was secretly slipped some people-meat for dinner, and he said it tasted like monkey. Cannibals have a mean sense of humor, I guess. But that answer’s not too helpful unless you’ve eaten a chimp.

“The best source to answer this question is William Seabrook. He was an American newspaper writer from the early part of the 20th Century who took an interest in world cultures and wrote a bunch of books about his adventures. He never ate people when he was with cannibal tribes; for some reason he waited until he got to France. While visiting a friend, he decided it was time for him to make the sacrifice and find out what we taste like.

“He knew a medical student who had access to corpses. The student cut a chunk of people-meat from a man who was healthy but had just died in an accident. He smuggled the meat out of the morgue. Seabrook said the raw meat looked like beef, just slightly less red, and was marbled with white sinews. It smelled like good beef too. The fat was slightly yellowish. He spit-roasted part of the meat and grilled the other part in the garden of his friend’s villa. Then he sat down to a meal of human being and a side dish of rice with only salt and pepper as seasoning. After eating nearly all of the meal, he concluded that people taste just like veal, not at all highly flavored like pork. The cooked meat looked pale like veal, too. So there’s your answer, Matthew. Veal. Happy now?”

Hey, Grandma, you’re the best. Uh-oh, what’s burning in the kitchen?

“Oh no! Darn you, Matthew! Why can’t you have an ordinary job like everybody else?”


My question is, why didn’t you answer my question of 6-27? It was, do dental X-rays cause Alzheimer’s?

— Jim, San Diego

Add dental X-rays to the long list of things that don’t cause Alzheimer’s even though we think they do. If Alzheimer’s was caused by something as simple as a picture of your molars, don’t you think doctors would be packing up all their Alzheimer’s research gear, scheduling news conferences, and moving on to some other disease? In fact, dental X-rays are actually thought to play a helpful role in the early identification of stroke risk.

There’s a dental X-ray called a panoramic radiograph that takes a shot of the whole mouth — both sets of choppers, upper and lower, from molar to molar. Another thing that shows up on these pics is both carotid arteries, neck vessels that carry blood to the brain. Plaque inside the arteries shows up as fuzzy white patches, so a doctor can be alerted to a potentially blocked artery, the cause of many strokes.

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