Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Eeeewwwww! Man eats wife's placenta raw in a smoothie and cooked in a taco!

Placentophagy is becoming popular, thanks to health claims and celebrity advocates. And afterbirth is a surprisingly versatile ingredient – would you give it a go?
Nicholas Baines with his wife's placenta
Nicholas Baines with his wife's placenta. Photographs: Nicholas Baines for the Guardian

It is mere moments after the birth of my son and, still basking in the euphoria of parenthood, I make the request. The mood changes, the smiles of the midwives melt into looks of bewilderment, then repulsion. It has, however, interested the surgeon who is busy stitching my wife up after her C-section. "How are you going to cook it?" he asks. "With spices?"
Since my wife and I first discussed having a child, the thought of this one-time opportunity to eat human placenta had been rolling around my mind. Being inquisitively omnivorous, I wanted to know how it would taste; in the face of a fresh, still-warm placenta, I was less enthusiastic. The wobbly, knotted mass of fibrous, clot-like flesh was bigger than I expected and somewhat intimidating. While I wavered, a more open-minded midwife suggested taking "just a few cheeky steaks". And so I left the hospital with my wife, our newborn son and a doggy bag.
Placenta, ready to cook
 Placenta, ready to cook.

Many advocates believe that eating placenta can help ward off postnatal depression. Oxytocin, the hormone that helps facilitate childbirth and milk production, is found within the placenta. The organ is also packed full of stem cells, thought by some to aid restoration of the mother's body. But the evidence is anecdotal, and the practice of eating placenta a modern obsession.
Cooking placenta
 Cooking placenta
Despite its taboo nature, placenta appears to be an incredibly versatile ingredient. Twitter threw up many mothers praising the placenta smoothie, Google returned recipes for lasagne and pizza and even a dedicated recipe book, while, back in 1998, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall made a pâté out of one woman's placenta (resulting in many complaints to Channel 4). I eventually decide to have it raw in a smoothie and cooked in a taco, fried with a little garlic and paprika.
Placenta taco
 Placenta taco.
The following morning, my wife sat out of the way in the front room while I set about one of her body parts in the kitchen. It was good to have first-hand knowledge of this placenta's provenance – I cooked a balanced, nutritious diet throughout my wife's pregnancy, interspersed with vast quantities of chocolate digestives. Sadly, none of the biscuity nuances came through in the meat.
The blender looked rank. After 10 minutes of watching a hefty chunk of placenta whirl round the Magimix, it finally broke down into the banana and coconut water. Up front was the distinct flavour of banana, superseded by a metallic, bloody backnote. It had a mineral earthiness to it and tasted exactly like the delivery room had smelled.
Placenta smoothie
 Placenta smoothie
The cooked placenta, on the other hand, was actually pretty good. As I seasoned it on the chopping board, the bright, almost glowing red chunk of placenta was more attractive than many cuts of offal I've dealt with, and looked quite appetising. The meat was rich, with a beef-like quality. It was tender, kind of like roast brisket and not dissimilar to Texas BBQ.
I'd read of one mother who felt weird and jittery after ingesting placenta, followed by a frightening phase filled with tears and rage. Fortunately, other than feeling nauseous from the smoothie, my mood was unchanged.
Asking to take home the placenta was the most difficult part of my foray into placentophagy. After all, human offal is no more gruesome than that of livestock. But despite celebrity advocates, an increase in encapsulation services and a list of supposed health benefits, it seems that for many, the idea of eating placenta is just too difficult to stomach.

What do YOU think? Is it a form of cannibalism...or do you think it's worth trying?...Or the mere thought of it got you feeling nauseous?? Your comments below!


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