Welsh Food journalist Geffryda Frygefda gets an exclusive taste of London's latest gastronomic trend - human flesh. But, she asks, is cannibalism all it's cracked up to be?
Geffryda Frygefda eats her words...
"I know you're a cannibal," sang The Breeders in 1987. And never could they have been more right about that than tonight. The candles have been lit, Fleet Foxes radio has been selected on Last.fm - to murmurs of approval. A group of seven sharply-attired 32-year-olds - two heterosexual couples, one homosexual pairing, and one Welsh gal (me) are discussing Urban Outfitters' latest range of Instagram-branded crockery over a bowl of wasabi peas.
One couple from Clapham tells me they've been camped outside for the previous four nights on the off-chance that the chef will deign to turn up to his own home - that's how the 'no reservations' rule rules London restauration these days, folks.
I'm sitting at a pop-up restaurant in the East London flat of ruggedly handsome chef Johanathansen Swiftsen, who comes from the country of Scandinavia. His pad in Richmond Road, London Fields, is all exposed beams and exposed bricks and exposed space. Swiftsen tells me that the estate agent who sold it to him told him it used to be a mobile phone factory back in Victorian times. Apt then that his modern day mobile phone is ringing off the hook right now. Because he's so popular.
After presenting us with an amuse bouche of sous-vide human hair and finger nails, Swiftsen retreats to the kitchen. What follows momentarily distracts us from our cocktails: blood-curdling screams, pleas of mercy screeched in an unfamiliar tongue, then silence. Followed by chopping, hacking, sawing. While a horror movie is acted out next door, we argue good-naturedly about which is the best supper club and gastro-trend right now.
An hour later and dinner is served. Human four ways. I sink my teeth into the wonderful, buttery flesh; purring and pawing and smearing the blood all around my lips and my cheeks and giggling like I used to do when I ran along those bracing Pembrokeshire cliffs as a girl in search of fairies and fantasy worlds.
Yes, we are dining on human flesh, explains chef Swiftsen, breathily and manlyly. But his chiselled cheeks and mop of brown hair are all I can concentrate on as I nod my head willingly. "We're eating a Zimbabwean refugee called Precious..." he laughs, while sipping Manzanilla, "...with sorrel. I bought her at Ridley Road Market this morning. She was shaking uncontrollably. It took quite a lot of Valium before I could get her in the boot of my Volvo."
"Of course!" squeals one of my fellow diners exuberantly, "I knew those screams were in Ndebele! I read something about some war or something in Zimbambia on The Huffington Post last month." Quickly, she goes back to snapping photos of our meal with her iPhone and excitedly pinning them up on Pinterest.com, while scanning the site for other treats. "Oooh look at that pink vintage stove!" she yodels.
I know what you're thinking - there's a big ethical problem with all this. Me too. What about the food miles? I question chef Swiftsen sternly. Couldn't you locally source a human? His reply is that he tried to - in fact it seems several journalism students at City University have already expressed an interest in being slain and eaten so they can write posthumous first person features about the experience.
The demand for human meat is exceeding supply - so for now an asylum seeker will have to do. "Look on the bright side Geffryda," says Swiftsen, smirking. "These people usually make an overland journey from Africa, so no carbon-heavy air travel!" At this we all laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and I shoot Swiftsen a brief adoring glance, but he doesn't notice.
Cannibalism is becoming the food fad of 2012 after sweeping across the Atlantic. Top New York restaurant La Petite Mort has been serving braised child's cheeks with sorrel, while a Los Angeles food truck called Organ Donor has been serving human liver and onions (and sorrel), and devilled human kidneys across LA.
It's all a far cry from my native Wales, where my earliest memory is of tasting roast lamb at a lunch with Sir Martin Sorrell (a family friend) on my tear-stained trips back home from boarding school.
I walk out into the nippy night air. It had been a solipsistic evening. Or had it? Either way, now I have a taste for human flesh I need some more. I spy some teenagers goofing around on BMX bikes in a dimly lit passageway. I head over, carving knife in hand, licking my lips.
Next week - Geffryda Frygefda eats her words about... the best artisan fox pâtés
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