Thursday, April 21, 2011


And speaking of Titus Andronicus, like many of you I’ve recently become aware of the story of John “Pricey” Price (great nickname – that’s him above), an Australian man, whose “de facto” wife Katherine Knight, murdered him, and cooked him intending to feed him to his adult children.  Apparently it happened in New South Wales back in 2000, and she was convicted in 2001, but it only seems to have become a hot news item now because the woman’s appeal has been (understandably) turned down. 

The story goes that Knight (above) stabbed Price 37 times with a butcher's knife, then skinned him and hung the hide from a meat hook in their “lounge room.” Then she decapitated him and put his head in a pot on the stove and began stewing it, then cut some flesh from his buttocks and baked it.  Many  veggies and gravy were also on the menu.  The police arrived at the house before the children did, and dinner was never served, which all in all is a very good thing.  But even if the kids had arrived first, the human pelt hanging from the ceiling might surely have suggested that something wasn’t quite right.

My awareness of the case coincided with news of an exhibition in Paris.  It came to me as a news alert from the Taipei Times (though the story originated with Bloomberg) and it was headlined “Broiled buttocks? 
Or perhaps a pair of braised breasts?”  It was referring to the opinion of St Jerome, who in his treatise Against Jovianus describes the cannibalistic preferences of the Attacots, a wild tribe living in Roman Britain.  Evidence of the Attacots and what they got up to is extremely scarce, but if you can’t trust a saint, who can you trust?

The exhibition was “Tous Cannibales” at the Maison Rouge and as I write it’s still on display until May.  The exhibition deomnstrates the way artists have used the imagery of cannibalism in their work. I had was especially taken with this piece  below, by Yasumasa Morimura, a Japanese artist/photographer who inserts himself into famous artworks.

The work is titled Exchange of Devouring and of course he’s turned himself into Goya’s Saturn who either is or isn’t eating his own children.  In fact I believe that “child’s” body is actually his own, so to be precise it’s an act of auto-cannibalism.

However the real revelation of the exhibition Michel Journiac one of the founders of the “Art Corporel” moment, and yes I’m sure there are places where they talk of little else, but I’d never heard of him.  A video of his 1969 performance art piece Messe Pour un Corps (Mass for a Body) was in the exhibition, a parody of the Catholic mass in which he dressed up as priest and offered the audience pieces of blood sausage made with his own blood.  I don’t know how many accepted.

Above is a picture of him giving his blood, which suggests to me he was making a bit of a drama out of it.  I mean, I have blood drawn a couple of times a year and there’s really no need for the long face.  The phlebotomist and I chat away happily throughout the whole business, and I confess that I always think of asking her to draw an extra test-tube full of the stuff so I can take it home with me and do something culinary with it, make blood jelly the way the Vietnamese do with duck’s blood.  In truth however I never have the nerve: you don’t want your phlebotomist to think you’re a nut job, do you?

Anyway, I did manage to find Journiac’s recipe for “boudin au sang humain” on a website called and frankly it sounds a little tame.  90 cubic centimeters of human blood, 90 grams of animal fat, 90 grams of chopped onions, salt, and “un boyau salé ramolli à l'eau froide puis épongé” which I assume is a casing, but my French, and my online translators, don’t allow me to be absolutely certain.

But the real objection is the quantity of blood.  A cubic centimeter is a milliliter and a milliliter is 0.00211337642 US pints.  So 90 milliliters is 0.190203 pints  or 0.38 of a cup which is frankly bugger all.  I think he should at least have been prepared to give a pint.

And I’m also unimpressed by the 90 grams of animal fat.  What a cop out.  The last time I was having blood taken, I wondered how I might find a tame liposuctionist who would out suck a few pounds of my blubber and let me take it away with me so that I could make a real Nicholson blood sausage.  Or, since I’m a Yorkshireman, I’d probably call it black pudding.

I suppose, for all sorts of reasons, that it’ll never happen, not least because everyone would say, but Geoff, that French dude Journiac got there first. 

 I have to say this isn’t one of the greatest artist disappointments of my life, and in any case I was easily cheered up last night when I went to Boardner’s my favorite Hollywood watering, and not nearly as glam as it looks in the ad.  I often go there for a quick drink before heading off somewhere fancier and sometimes I end up just staying there instead.

There’s always been cheap happy hour food but now they’ve revamped the menu and includes morcilla (Spanish blood sausage) with quail eggs.  Oh boy!  It looked like this.

Something tells me this might be a bit fancy for the regular clientele of Boardners.  Some people from my wife’s office went there and gasped in disbelief at the notion that quails might lay eggs - but I really, really do hope not.  On the way home I wondered where the chef sourced his morcilla.

1 comment:

  1. Funny that you posted something about cannibalism -- I just finished reading 'The Heart of the Sea' about the sinking of the whaleship Essex, where the shipwrecked crew had to resort to cannibalism and the author quotes frome 'Contingency Cannibalism: Superhardcore Survivalism's Dirty Little Secret' by Shiguro Takada. Judging from the Amazon page that's one weird book!

    Love your blog, by the way. :-)