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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Laughed. It's Okay!, August 13, 2008
This review is from: Human Cuisine (Paperback)
Human Cuisine, a reader
Edited by Ken Albala and Gary Allen

A review by Marty Martindale

The Greeks termed it "anthropophagy;" most of the rest of the world refers to it as "cannibalism." Yet, almost all of society practices denial when it comes to dining on people. Animals? No problem. People? A large problem!

Co-editors, Ken Albala, a professor of European history at the University of the Pacific and Gary Allen food writer and author, co-opted earlier on their compilation, The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of Food and Drink Industries in 2007. They term the book's Table of Contents, "Menu." Short biographies of each writer are found in a section titled, The Kitchen Staff.

Ken Albala, Gary Allen and Surge Publishing have graciously come up with a cannibalism platform for 21 writers, some scholars, others professionals, writers, practitioners and interested persons who have taken varying looks at the seemingly forbidden topic. In the collection, the reader will find storytelling, essays, poetry and drama at times taunting the reader, fascinating others. The topics conjure up clever, extenuating circumstances from weird amuse bouches to the tongue-in-cheek simplicity for some grizzly delicacies.

Ken Albala breaks the ice early with a quotation from the well-admired James Beard, who once said, "I believe that if I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around."

Frequently, between the works of the different writers, both editors lighten things up with cannibalistic recipes, not too extreme and not tested. After the fascinating story, The Watchman's Secret," they intervene with recipes for Andes Mints, a layered affair of thinly-sliced soccer player and double mint chewing gum. Allen counters with his recipe for Caesar Salad, wherein a marinated emperor is sliced neatly and garnished with Romaine lettuces, dressed with beaten egg, garlic and liquamen.

Following a deep story entitled Brain Food, they insert a recipe by M. L. McCorkle titled Bush Almondine, to be sure, a down-home recipe, better than possum: some ingredients are diced, Bush baked, not roasted, Cream of Mushroom soup, Cheney brains, canned Rove, corn flakes crushed and a generous sprinkling of sliced almonds.

In a section the editors title, Flouting the Taboo, Ellen J. Fried, in her The Depiction of Cannibalism in Advertising states, "Images of cannibalism are everywhere in our culture. It is the subject of jokes and cartoons. It is the topic of movies, both pornographic and for general audiences, books, poems and songs ... and the depiction of cannibalism is also in pun-intended, alive and well." Later, Fried goes on to say in answer to why cannibalism invokes humor, "Humans tend to laugh at things that frighten them in an effort to relieve their fears."

In a parting section, Gary Allen brings us back to objectivity with a chapter he calls Strangers in the Night where he reminds us that we, as a society, have helped make fans of vampires and Dracula an ever-increasing audience. He also goes into the many meanings for the word blood in our culture and reminds us of its symbolism in Christian communion and Kosher slaughtering practices.

Just as the last forbidden cuss word may be out in the open, now there's also a new, honorable platform for writers of cannibalistic tales, and we all have a right to laugh, for we are acknowledging our very own fears and "it's okay."

Ken Alabal's website is:
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Gary Allen's website is: [...]%20news.htm
Marty Martindale's website is:
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