The Plokta cabal are noted for being foodies. However, we may make an exception...
Well, there we were, cooking chocolate fondue at the Girls' Night In, munching various snacks and so forth, when Gary and Pam bounded in. Gary was invited to the Girls' Night In as a special dispensation, you understand; so that he could meet Ravening Maenads in the flesh and be introduced to the intricacies of chocolate fondue.
"We've had ever such a good idea," said Pam. There followed a brief discussion about who should let me know the nature of the good idea. I began to suspect that this might, in fact, be not so much a good idea, as a partly baked idea; you know, one which isn't sufficiently baked to be counted as half-baked. I was right.
"We had this brilliant idea. For fund-raising. For TAFF. We thought you could bring your placenta along to Attitude and auction it!"
This seemed pretty dodgy to me. I mean, the baby's due on January 13, and Attitude's not until mid-February. I suggested feebly that it might have gone off a bit by then. (The placenta, that is, not the baby).
However, Pam seemed quite determined about it. She explained that there was a long fannish tradition of eating the placenta, and that Jeanne Bowman had written a fanzine article all about how she had cooked it and invited a number of people around for dinner to help her eat it. As far as it going off was concerned, the solution was clearly to take it home from the hospital and freeze it, and then cook it nearer to the date.
Taking it home from the hospital wouldn't be too much of a problem. Apparently bits which are removed from your body belong to you, and you're welcome to take them home if you like. And I'm fairly sure we could find space in the freezer.
The next problem would be cooking it. We reckoned that it might be worth cooking a couple of different meals with it; after all, it's not every day that you get the chance to practice your culinary skills on genuine human flesh. Perhaps Placenta Korma, or Placenta Wellington. Steak and Placenta Pie or Crispy Aromatic Placenta. Placenta in the Hole or Placentá L'Orange. Kentucky Fried Placenta or a McPlacenta Sandwich. Placenta, placenta, placenta, placenta, placenta, spam and placenta.
Placenta inna bun! Get æem while they're hot! I'm cutting me own
throat cord here!
But first I needed recipes. I had a look in Waterstones, but I couldn't find any books of the form 101 Easy Recipes for Common Body Parts. Luckily, all knowledge is contained on the World Wide Web. We fired it up and took a look. Plenty of sites mention placentas and cooking; unfortunately, most of them are talking about chillies. Something you may not know; placenta is a general term for the organ that keeps progeny attached to the mother, and the placentas of chillies contain most of the active ingredient that makes them hot. True.
But as far as cooking human placentas, nothing. A few places that mention the concept of eating placentas generally, but what I had in mind was recipes which started "First catch your placenta."
I turned to the Plokta cabal for help, but drew a blank. In particular, Sue suggested that a better approach would be raising the placenta and eating the baby. "Very tender at that age," she added. "Stewed in milk, like veal. Just raise it in a crate for six months and it'll be delicious." Steve was considerably more help, bringing me a copy of the seminal cookbook To Serve Man, by Karl Würf. This claimed to be a comprehensive book on the preparation and cooking of human flesh. However, its 74 recipes included recipes for liver, kidney, sweetbread, heart, lung, and all manner of other offal, but not a single recipe for placenta. I was most disappointed.
Brian Ameringen had better suggestions. He reckoned the placenta would probably taste quite like liver, and he suggested the Italian way of cooking liver, with sage. Personally, I fancied the idea of eating the placenta with fava beans and a nice Chianti. There's not by any means a consensus that it tastes like liver, though; I've heard some people argue that it tastes like tripe. In which case a quite different cooking technique would be needed.
Whatever method I chose, it would need to be thorough to kill off all the bugs. It's apparently uncommonly easy to pick up nasty diseases by eating other people. I don't of course have any nasty diseases, but I can't say the same for Pod.
All in all, however, it was clearly going to be a tremendous amount of fuss, at a time when I didn't really feel I'd be up to a lot of fuss. And it was all predicated on the notion that fans would actually pay good money, in an auction, for what is basically a bodily waste product. Of course, there are a lot of foodies out there in fandom. And it's very unusual to get the chance to eat human flesh while still being nearly socially acceptable.
Nevertheless, unless I get a flood of email before the 13th of January demanding the chance to try this culinary delicacy, it's not going to happen. I'm sure that TAFF will come up with plenty of other imaginative ways of raising money.
-- Alison Scott
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