As Kuper's new preface puts it, in an understatement, "this is not a book for the cautious, hidebound cook". How about roast puffin, caught in the Faroes on 2 July, the local version of the Glorious Twelfth? It sounds easy enough to cook (with some fat bacon, on gas mark 6, like any humdrum fowl) but you might have some trouble getting hold of the elongated lacrosse-stick device with which you have to pluck the blighters from the Arctic air. Even dog - a speciality of Panape in Micronesia - poses few problems if you have the right sort of clay oven (Conran take note). Cooked with breadfruit and banana leaves, "the dog did not taste as bad as its smell would have led one to believe". As Naomicho Ishige - our intrepid dog-eater - points out, the "man's best friend" notion arrived on the scene only with grazing and long-distance hunting.
Lest you get a skewed idea of the menus on show here, plenty of practical goodies also feature. They include banana bread (a Hawaiian treat), Greek Island cheesecake, West African sesame chicken, and pork curry from Catholic - hence swine-friendly - Goa. Even "Some Yoruba Ways with Yams" turns out to be far less painful than it sounds.
Yet the frisson of disgust that grabs you by the guts from time to time in this, or similarly outre, cookbooks has an ancient source. Surely, behind every taboo food lurks the grandaddy of all prohibitions. The unperturbable Jessica Kuper doesn't shirk it, but she coolly admits it was "impracticable to include cannibal recipes, even for desperate occasions". Besides, human flesh is "almost totally lacking in Vitamin B" and there is "no real nutritional value in cannibalism". Eating people is wrong - and it gives you beri- beri.
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