What does human meat taste like?

The tasting notes of serial killers, robots and explorers

Christopher Hooton
Tuesday 23 September 2014 14:51 BST
Cannibalism of the tribes in the interior of Brazil, engraving from by Theodore de Bry, 1602.
Cannibalism of the tribes in the interior of Brazil, engraving from by Theodore de Bry, 1602.

Two London chefs are this week trying to come up with a burger that tastes like human flesh, while Hannibal is busy cooking lung and loin bourguignon over on NBC, but exactly what flavour do we have?

It's a macabre thought, but one carnivores can't help but idly wonder from time to time when eating the wide array of animals that we do.

What with cannibalism being illegal and all, we only really have the unreliable testimonies of murderers and long-dead explorers to go on. Here are some notable human-eaters' tasting notes:

"Man's flesh is delicious, it tastes far better than fish or pork."

- Alexander Pearce, an Irish convict notorious for cannibalising his fellow prison escapees. He reportedly made these comments shortly before being hanged.

"I sauteed the steak of Bernd, with salt, pepper, garlic and nutmeg. I had it with Princess croquettes, Brussels sprouts and a green pepper sauce. The flesh tastes like pork, a little bit more bitter, stronger. It tastes quite good."

- German cannibal Armin Meiwes during a 2007 TV interview.

"It melted in my mouth like raw tuna in a sushi restaurant."

- Murderer Issei Sagawa, on taking a bite out of his victim.

"It was like good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef. It was very definitely like that, and it was not like any other meat I had ever tasted... It was mild, good meat with no other sharply defined or highly characteristic taste such as for instance, goat, high game, and pork have."

- William Seabrook, an explorer who ate a human rump steak on a trip to West Africa.

"It's so sweet."

- Egyptian model Omaima Nelson on her husband's ribs.

"I only eat the parts with muscles, particularly thighs and calves, which are my favorite. I make a very tasty stew with the tongue and I use the eyes to make a nutritious and healthy soup."

- Dorangel Vargas, known as the 'Hannibal Lecter of the Andes'.

"The breasts of man...are the sweetest meat I ever tasted."

- American prospector Alferd Packer, who was accused of cannibalism during the winter of 1873-1874.

There we have it. Apparently somewhere between veal and pork steaks. Unless you'd rather take the word of an NEC food-testing robot, which when a reporter placed his hand against its taste sensor deemed him to be "prosciutto".

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