© 2021 All Rights reserved WUSF
News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Three Juicy Tales Of The Ultimate Food Taboo

skull

For starters, let's dispense with the cheap jokes about cannibalism. That means cracks about giving an arm and a leg (sorry) for a good book on the subject, or similar tasteless (sorry again) attempts to make the subject more palatable (last one). The fact is, the gags (really the last one, I promise) that pop up when discussions turn to the consumption of human flesh are defense mechanisms against the train-wreck fascination we have for the subject. When we move beyond the one-liners, though, nonfiction accounts of cannibalism provide a window into the farthest reaches of human nature, from desperate bids for survival to significant — and yes, disturbing — practices of lost cultures.

I came to this topic through a book I was writing about two cultures, one modern, one prehistoric, that stumbled on each other in the most remote part of New Guinea. When I learned that cannibalism was part of the story, and that my research would put me in contact with ex-cannibals, let's just say it whetted my appetite (I lied).

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.