Thursday, February 05, 2004

We Think You May Be Missing the Point of a Food Blog, Flea.

Well, maybe so. But I can't help it. One of the books on my need-to-read list last year was Mary Roach's Stiff, a non-fiction book about the adventures of cadavers. For most of the book, she chats airily about the remains of people who have donated their bodies to science and the surprising way those remains are often used. But toward the end she veers off the subject and begins addressing more bizarre subjects such as cannibalism and people who gamely try a head transplant with what one would assume are unwilling monkeys and reanimate severed heads and other wholesome pursuits.

What does this have to do with food? You ask. Surely you're not posting this crap solely to hurt us, are you? No! No no no! No...not really. Maybe a little. But mostly no.

I did want to post these bit from the book, though:

In 1971, [neurosurgeon Robert] White achieved the unthinkable. He cut the head off one monkey and connected it to the base of the neck of a second, decapitated monkey. The operation lasted eight hours and required numberous assistants, each having been given detailed instructions, including where to stand and what to say. White marked off everyone's position on the floor with chalk circles and arrows, like a football coach. The first step was to give the monkeys tracheotomies and hook them up to repirators, for their windpipes were about to be severed. Next White pared the two monkeys necks down to just the spine and the main blood vessels - the two carotid arteries carrying blood to the brain and the two jugular veins bringing it back to the heart. Then he whittled down the bone on the top of the body donor's neck and capped it with a metal plate, and did the same thing on the bottom of the head. (After the vessels were reconnected, the two plates were screwed together.) Then, using long, flexible tubing, he brought the circulation of the donor body over to supply its new head and sutured the vessels. Finally, the head was cut off from the blood supply of its old body.

Still here? No? Well, I'll keep going anyway. Now, read this:

[My conversation with White] has moved from White's lab to a booth in a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant. My recommendation to you is that you never eat baba ganoush or, for that matter, any soft, glistening gray food item while carrying on a conversation about monkey brains.

So my point of all this is: the day after I read these excerpts, I went out to eat with fellow food-bloggers Emily and Brooke, and did exactly what Roach specifically warned me not to do - talk about monkey brains while eating baba ganoush. And I wasn't being rebellious in that "nobody tells ME I can't talk about monkey brains!" kind of way. It just kind of came up.

Okay, I brought it up. Because I told Brooke that I thought of her when I read about severed monkey heads, for reasons of my own that I see no need to get into here. The important thing is this: that's what everyone wants to hear, isn't it? Brooke = severed monkey heads. What was I thinking? Why would I tell someone she reminded me of severed monkey heads? During consumption of a product that looks like runny monkey brains?

But here's the really funny thing: She didn't seem to mind being compared to severed monkey heads. Emily sort of looked like she wanted the ground to open up and swallow her, or, more preferably, me, but Brooke just smiled and nodded. Severed monkey heads, you say? Sure, why not?

But then again, this is a woman who happily talked about worms that embed themselves into your muscle tissue if you're unfortunate enough to eat undercooked infected meat while we were eating sushi last fall, so there you go.

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