Photos by the author
Eating a human placenta is harder than you might imagine. First off, they are difficult to trap. Growing up in the hippie mecca of Austin, Texas, one heard about earth-mother types planting their infants’ placentas under trees and even grinding them up into smoothies. It seemed like no big deal. So when my buddy knocked up his wife, we began plotting a BBQ accordingly. We asked the midwife to smuggle out the goods for us, but she was a bit worried. We promised her some weed and she agreed to try. Hippies!
She wrapped the placenta up in a biohazard bag, met me outside the hospital, nervously handed it over, then shooed me off. I tossed it into a small, iced-up 7-Eleven Styrofoam cooler, got on my bicycle, and rode off, baby cocoon on board. I felt like Elliott, pedaling away with E.T. on his handlebars.
The placenta preparation was one of the most ungodly rituals in which I have ever engaged. When you kill animals, it’s important to wash the blood out of them before cooking. (When cows are taken to the slaughterhouse, one of the first things they do is chop off their feet so the beating heart will pump out all the blood.) Same idea with stringing up a goat or sheep before slitting its throat—something cavemen figured out, I guess. Since a placenta is essentially a sack of blood vessels, the cleaning process takes a long time. A really long time. It was about the size of a full brisket, say four pounds, but with the addition of a one-meter-long white umbilical cord.
The menu was twofold: I would make a stew, like a Mexican carne guisada, in an attempt to soften up the texture for tacos, and the rest would be shish-kebabed. It took a while to cook, as this is not the type of thing one wants to eat medium rare. By the time we were ready to give it a go, the taco concoction had been going for about an hour and a half, and I was quite hungry and more than a little drunk. But I was still supersqueamish. When I emerged from the kitchen with a tray of placenta tacos, the guys seemed particularly unnerved. A surprising number of the chicks were greedily indulging as the offerings were passed around. Reticently, I forced myself to try.
The tacos were more challenging because they were gooier, while the kebabs had a bit of crunch from the fire. The human meat had a spongy texture to it, sort of like brains or kidneys. I have never eaten brains or kidneys, but I imagine they would feel similar in the mouth. Somehow, I ate everything handed me, and in the end sort of wished dinner had been twins. To the list of achievements on my résumé, I proudly added Cannibalism.