Culture Features

Your Favorite Mexican Stew Has Cannibalistic Origins

When the holidays near, and Mexican families get ready to sit at the dinner table to slurp up their beloved pozole, there’s a good chance they have no idea about its documented dark past.

As a man who loves his pozole, and has eaten at least three bowls of it every Christmas Eve since he was 12, you can imagine my surprise in learning that the Mexican stew has a history of being made with human flesh.

The man-meat pozole tidbit was something that I stumbled upon while watching an episode of “Migrant Kitchen,” on KCET. This particular episode featured Mexican Chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, whom I had recently interviewed, which led me to delving into more of her work.

In the episode, journalist Beto Lanz spoke about pozole pre-dating Hispanic cultures. Its original form used meat that were not only of rodents, which is cringeworthy in its own right. But even before that, there were rituals where the bodies of sacrificed men were used in the dish.


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Lanz went on to explain that when the Spaniards made their way to the Americas, they put an end to these types of sacrificial ceremonies.

My initial reaction while hearing all of this, was, ‘No waaaaaay!’ But then a few seconds later, I realized that it’s probably not something that’s too far-fetched.

I feel guilty being part of a Mexican-American generation that sometimes forgets to check in on the ol’ cultural roots, so the whole Aztec cannibalistic era was lost on me, as I’m sure it has been for many. So I dove into a little bit of food history to see what I’d find out about the classic native dish.

Obviously human sacrifice and cannibalism don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, but there have been anthropological studies that linked Aztec sacrifices and the consumption of human meat.

A study at Michigan State University suggests that, “In addition to ‘merely’ sacrificing humans, it is generally accepted by anthropologists that the Aztecs also cannibalized these sacrificial offerings.”

So while the Aztecs didn’t just go around eating people left and right like in The Book of Eli, in certain situations, the consumption of human flesh did occur.

Those findings are pretty gruesome to think about, but can you really link that to our precious pozole? Here is why many believe you can.


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Additional academic findings bring us to Moctezuma. Yes, the dude from the Knott’s Berry Farm ride.

The Arizona Historical Society has documented that the ruler did have a bit of a taste for human flesh.

Writings from ethnologist Father Bernardino de Sahagun, show that Emperor Moctezuma had a grand feast that featured not just the familiar boiled corn, but human flesh, with the royal “having a whole thigh reserved for himself.”

The Aztec term for “pozol” meant “foamy,” which is why it is linked to the pozole we know today. As anyone who has cooked the dish, knows it gets frothy when the corn is being boiled.

While Sahagun never mentions pozole by name, he mentions that the Moctezuma’s feast consisted of tlacatlaolli, which isn’t exactly like the pozole we’re familiar with, but was a boiled corn dish that is linked to pozole origins.

So while it is not explicitly stated that “pozole” was a dish fit for cannibalistic appetites, there is some research that implies it.

Moctezuma fed human parts to his guests, who were probably thinking that dude was a psychopath, and forever sullied the precious origins of our beloved pozole.

While pozole literally translates to “hominy” and that corny portion of the ingredient list has stayed the same through time, it’s interesting to note that the meaty portions weren’t always the pig’s feet and pulled pork we’re used to.

Now, as you sit and eat your pozole, you can tell your grandma that pozole used to be made with human flesh, as she’ll promptly smack you for being gross at the dinner table.

Culture Science Video

What Actually Happens To You If You Only Ate Human Flesh [WATCH]

Sure, a series like Hannibal can make something as horrifying as cannibalism seem nonchalant. The reality is, there are many terrible things that could happen to your body if you only stuck to a diet of human flesh.

AsapSCIENCE created a video that detailed exactly what would happen to humans if they ate a diet based on a buffet of bodies.

For starters, you can run the risk of contracting any blood borne disease (hepatitis, ebola) the person you’re chowing down on may be carrying, as well as infections like E. coli and other bacteria. Humans are also considered to be red meat, and about half of our calories are just straight fat tissue. Finally, we can run the risk of prion disease which can mutate normal proteins in the brain, causing neurodegeneration.

From a factual standpoint, the risks far outweigh the benefits.

While cannibalism is more common in the world of insects and some indigenous cultures, most mammals have a natural tendency to steer clear of the act. Probably for the best.

Celebrity Grub Culture

CNN Host Eats Human Brains On TV And People Are Pissed

Traveling the world and learning about other cultures can be a fruitful experience, but sometimes that experience can lead to some sketchy practices — like cannibalism.

CNN debuted an original series called “Believer” as host Reza Aslan traveled the world to learn about different religions and cultures, which led him to India to experience an “extreme Hindu sect” known as the Aghori.

The highlight of the Aghori segment was Aslan joining them for a meal of human brains, while also drinking out of a skull. In the video above, you can see him get somewhat bullied into eating the brains at the 1:15 mark.

Unless you’re a Walking Dead or Book of Elie fan, watching cannibalism on TV isn’t exactly anyone’s favorite. But what really got people angry, was the belief that the show was fetishizing the Aghori practices, and disrespecting the Hindu belief.

Aslan has been ripped non-stop since the Sunday premier, being bombarded on social media with lengthy comments, like:


And let’s not forget:

It’s evident that not everyone appreciated the episode, but Aslan hasn’t backed down, defending not only the episode, but his entire career as a scholar of religions. He said he understands the sensitivities that come with religion, but the show was not intended to represent all of Hinduism. In fact, one of the very first things Reza said on the show was, “There is a sect of Hinduism called the Aghori, challenging the very fabric of Indian society.”

If Aslan plans on being Anthony Bourdain 2.0, he’s off to a rocky start, but we’ll see how the second episode turns out. Hopefully he eats something a little less controversial.


Egyptian Zoo Under Fire Over Animal Cannibalism Claim


Animals in an Egyptian zoo are making headlines after a photograph of a baboon was shared through social media. According to The Cairo Post, an African baboon at a zoo in the Al Sharqia governorate was shown cannibalized by its cage mates.

A post by Miss Asmaa in the Save an Innocent Animal Soul Facebook page says that the animals in the zoo are either dying of extreme hunger or resorting to cannibalism to survive.


The Zakazik Zoo director has since denied these claims stating that the baboon was injured in a rampage because his wife abandoned him to take care of their newborn baby. The baboon has since been isolated.

While it’s mostly he said/she said the photo does raise concerns over the well-being of zoo animals in the country.

In 2004, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums took the certification from the Giza Zoo due to animal welfare problems.

Regardless, those injuries to the baboon should have been treated immediately if that were the case.

Photo: Miss Asmaa/CairoPost


If Hannibal Lector Was A Really Lousy Chef [HUMOR]


The infamous Hannibal Lector probably best known for his brilliant mind, his cannibalistic tendencies and his talent for the culinary arts. What if, however, he lacked one of those traits.

What if he was a really shitty cook?

CollegeHumor posted this hilarious video based on NBC’s cult television series Hannibal. The clip features the titular character serving up a variety of dishes made of human parts. Instead of the amazing plating and presentation depicted on the show, however, we get a look at what it’d be like if he was really bad at covering up human remains.


Cannibals Get Caught Slinging People-Filled Pastries


Hannibal-style empadas, anyone?

Three people are being tried in Brazil for acts of cannibalism and frankly being disturbed as all hell. A husband, his wife and his mistress were all charged with killing and dismembering two women. The women were told they would be offered employment as nannies, but instead were met with a terrible fate.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the grisly threesome ate parts of their victims and used their flesh to make Brazilian pastries known as empadas. To make matters even worse, the trio ate and sold these pastries to their neighbors. Oh, and their innocent kid also ate some people-flavored empadas. Those crazies couldn’t even leave the poor kid out of it. The reasoning behind such a disgusting crime? They were trying to purify the world and reduce its population. Smh.

This isn’t the first time people have gone AWOL and turned full-on cannibal. Last month, we reported on an Australian chef who offed his girlfriend and thought it wise to turn her into a meal. This guy narrowly avoided the cops by taking his own life. Seriously, what the actual fudgsicles is wrong with people?

H/T Washington Post + PicThx Eater


Artist Eats His Own Hip for a Romantic Dinner with His Girlfriend


That awkward moment when cannibalism becomes art.

Norwegian artist Alexander Selvik Wengshoel got a hip replacement and convinced his doctor to let him use it for his performance art. Although he initially wasn’t sure what he’d do with it, he ultimately decided to cook his hip and eat it.

Wengshoel, 21, was born with a hip deformity and told The Local that he spent the entire year trying to convince his doctors to let him film his hip replacement procedure, and he even got to keep the hip.

“The hipbone had been such a problem for me for over 20 years, and it was just a way of making it better again,” he said. “It had been so hard to have it in my body, and when I took it out, it turned into something else, something romantic. It was a natural process I felt I had to do to move on.”

Of course, he didn’t just sit home alone, eating a plate of hip while watching Mad Men in his underwear, he actually made a special event out of it for him and his girlfriend. They shared his hip bone over a romantic dinner and had some potatoes au gratin and some wine. You have to appreciate a guy who cooks for his girlfriend.

I had to boil off the meat to get to the bone, and when I started scraping off the meat, I took off a little piece and I thought, ‘why not do it?’ It’s not every day I will have a piece of human flesh which is mine and which it is possible to eat.

Wengshoel received mixed reactions from his colleagues at the Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art, as some liked it, while other told him it was not really art. If you asked Wengshoel, however, he said it tasted like “wild sheep.”

H/T The Norway


Zombie Foodie Trends [HUMOR]

With all the recent accounts of cannibalism in the news these last couple of weeks, has it finally become uncool to eat human meat? Maybe it’s time for the undead find a new trend.