The sensationalistic gross-out topic of eating one’s placenta after birth is a perennial source of interest for writers and readers. But a new article (now available online) in the latest issue of Meatpaper, written by Cynthia Mitchell (a friend of mine), approaches it with hilarity. Mitchell became interested in the topic when she and her roommate were approached by a mysterious group called Adventures in Dining and asked to host a placenta-eating dinner at their apartment. Although the dinner was canceled (something about the placenta having been “tainted” by formaldehyde), Mitchell was intrigued, and decided to research the topic of “placentophagy.” As you might expect, the blood-filled sack is nutritious and has been used in many cultures as a cure or nutritional supplement in various forms. But wait, there’s more.

Mitchell writes: “Placentas have been eaten; buried; burned; marched in parades; sung to; dressed in clothing; entombed in pyramids (of their own!); floated down rivers; stolen; sold; used to curse, bless, cure, and beautify; been talked to; not talked in front of; taken on trips, given gifts of pens and needles; taken to school; fed; stabbed; used to make art prints; turned into teddy bears; tied to the heads of children; and probably a host of other things too strange or mundane to record.”

After a handful of wild placenta chases, Mitchell eventually does find a few modern Americans who have tasted the nurturing birth sack, including one who said “it was dried and shaped like a little flat cookie.” You’ll have to read the article to find out what it tasted like. And if you’re still game (and have access to a placenta), Mitchell includes a placenta lasagne recipe and a wine pairing suggestion.

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