(This is the first article I wrote for TheBlot magazine, Wall St., New York. It was published on Sept. 27, 2013.)
According to Cornell University Law School, there aren’t any laws in the US prohibiting cannibalism (the nonconsensual consumption of people).
In July (2013), Tyree Lincoln Smith (Fla.) was found not guilty for gorging on a vagrant. Then on Sept. 9, three Superior Court judges committed Smith to 60 years in a Connecticut psychiatric hospital. They feared he’d eat more humans if left free to roam.
Unlike Tyree Lincoln Smith, or serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer — whose flesh fetish landed him in prison — many cannibal cases are cases of survival.
Every time I fly over the Andes Mountains I look at the icy peaks piercing through the clouds and imagine the infamous 1972 plane crash survivors eating their frozen rugby teammates to stay alive.
Would I eat people? Of course I’d eat people.
But last month I tucked into alpaca steak and was overwhelmed by the maleness of the alpaca meat. My little alpaca had that masculine essence of a big buck killed by a car instead of a bullet.
Would the meat of a human male killed in a plane crash have the overpowering rankness of roadkill buck? Maybe women would taste better. And what is that man taste — is it hormonal?
I knew the perfect expert to ask, so I fired off a Facebook message to Paula Lee, PhD, at University of Chicago, author of the new book “Deer Hunting in Paris; a Memoir of God, Guns & Game Meat” and, on a more serious note, author of “Meat, Modernity, and the Rise of the Slaughterhouse.”
Kirsten Koza: I have a question about that male taste in meat — that distinct “this is a boar, or a boy alpaca” taste — is that from testosterone or other hormones? Where does that man taste come from?
Paula Lee: We recently slaughtered a male goat and he was quite ripe in life but, to my relief, the meat was quite tasty. The males have scent glands that must not be disturbed. Also, male goats urinate on their beards to attract females. If you slaughter correctly, that taste will not be there. A castrated goat doesn’t smell.
KK: Oh, so the manliness is from spilled scent?
PL: Yes, scent glands are found in various places depending on the animal. In deer, the scent glands are by the tarsals. In goats, they’re behind the horns. In some mammals the scent glands are in the tail, the anus or around the claws. There are ways to prevent that taste from spoiling the meat but it has to be done before slaughter. Afterwards, if the scent gets out, there’s no sense in trying to choke the meat down.
KK: So what about human male? Would they have that taste too if they, say, died in a plane crash?
PL: Humans don’t have scent glands!
KK: Some people have sweaty butts that smell pretty “scenty,” though.
PL: “Schweddy Balls!”
KK: Today I was thinking about an overly male alpaca I ate and how disappointed I was. Maybe I should have sent my alpaca back to the kitchen — it seems like a legitimate complaint now.
PL: In some cultures the male is prized, BUT it’s so awful when the scent gets in that I can’t imagine how the taste buds would ever find that acceptable, regardless of cultural differences. Live, our billy goat could be smelled long before seen. As meat, it was scent-free and delish. So yeah, you should have sent the dish back, alas.
“Humans don’t have scent glands.” This is great news for plane crash survivors, as it widens the dining selection equally for both genders.
When not eating people, if you purchase farmed or game meat in a restaurant or at a store, you can legitimately return your rump roast if it has that masculine mammal perfume, since it has been spoiled due to sloppy slaughtering, and in some species that aroma could be anal scent gland spillage.
When cannibalizing, there is still a risk of criminal charges even if it was for personal survival. There are laws in the United States and other countries in the world against murder and desecration of corpses.
Kirsten Koza is the author of “Lost in Moscow: A Brat in the USSR”, and her new anthology “Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters, Monstrous Toilets, and a Demon Dildo” hits store shelves in October 2015.