I’d scream three times too

escaping mouse found here

According to Mary Roach’s book Stiff, there is a famous Chinese recipe called Scream Three Times, in which newborn mice are taken from their mothers (first scream), dropped in a hot fry pot (second scream) and eaten (third scream).

image found here

However, this is not the oddest Chinese dish she writes about.

“Key Ray Chong describes a historical phenomenon wherein children, most often daughters-in-law, were obliged to demonstrate filial piety to ailing parents, most often mothers-in-law, by hacking off a piece of themselves and preparing it as a restorative elixir.

image by Hu Ming found here

Chong presents evidence in the form of a list, each entry detailing the source of the information, the donor, the beneficiary, the body part removed and the type of dish prepared from it.

In what may well be the earliest documented case of stomach reduction, one enterprising son presented his father with “lard of left waist”. He also cites a Taiwan News story from May 1987 in which a daughter cuts off a piece of her thigh to cook up a cure for her ailing mother.

image by Alex Prager found here

While researching this, I located a related article about cannibalism in contemporary China. Due to its extremely disturbing content I haven’t linked to it here but it’s easy to find via a google search on “cannibalism¬†+ China”

1870 engraving found here

the proximal end of a donkey’s tail

Li Shih-Zhen’s Compendium of ¬†Materia Medica took 27 years to write, including 10 years which he spent entirely indoors.

According to traditional Chinese pharmacological literature, pubic hair was claimed to be therapeutic, with power to cure snakebite, difficult birth, abnormal urination, the yin-yang exchange disorder and the ox that suffers from bloating.

image by Ferry Bertholet found here

The following were almost certainly used as medicine in 16th century China: human dandruff (best taken from a fat man), human knee dirt, ear wax, perspiration, old drumskins (ashed and applied to the penis for difficult urination), the juice squeezed out of pig’s faeces and dirt from the proximal end of a donkey’s tail.

image found here

During the same era in Europe, human fat was thought to be good for rheumatism and joint pain. Dutch army surgeons in the war for independence from Spain used to rush on to the field with their scalpels and buckets in the aftermath of a battle.

more butter sculpture to be found here

Then druggists would fancy up the goods by adding aromatic herbs and lyrical product names such as “Woman Butter” and “Poor Sinner’s Fat”. They also sold menstrual blood as “Maid’s Zenith” and prettied it up with rosewater. One recipe of the time called “Spirit of the Brain of Man” included not only brain membranes, arteries, veins and nerves but also peony, black cherries, lavender and lily.***

Black Cherry Comic found here

*** from Mary Roach’s book Stiff

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 7:51 am  Comments (38)  
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