“A fellow, a shepherd at Beverley, in Yorkshire, about eleven years ago, for a bet of five pounds, was produced, who was to devour a living cat. The one produced was a large black tomcat, which had not been fed for the purpose; but was chosen, as being the largest in that neighborhood. The day appointed was the fair-day at Beverley. The parties met. The man produced was a raw-boned fellow, about forty. The cat was then given to him; on which he took hold of his four legs with one hand, and closing his mouth with the other, he killed him by biting his head to pieces immediately, and in less than a quarter of an hour, devoured every part of the cat, tail, legs, claws, bones, and everything. The man who laid the wager gave the fellow two guineas for doing it, and the shepherd appeared perfectly satisfied with the reward. — After he had done it, he walked about the fair the whole afternoon, and appeared neither sick nor sorry. He took no emetic, nor had this repast any effect on him whatever.” –From “Cat Eaters,” in The Portfolio of Entertaining and Instructive Varieties (ca. 1824)
The Italian Futurists’ marriage of man and machine was a feast for the senses
In a room whose walls are lined with aluminum, nimble waiters flit past diners, spritzing the air with perfume. A Wagner opera blares from a phonograph somewhere hidden. On each table sit four plates, each containing a small morsel. A quarter of a fennel bulb occupies the first, a single olive the second, the third holds a minute pile of candied fruit, and the fourth, a “tactile device” of red damask, velvet, and sandpaper, which the diners fondle as they eat.
Higher learning and higher caloric intake have long gone hand in hand
My first year of college I managed to keep off the dreaded “Freshman 15″ by living on Grape Nuts, soy milk, orange juice, and gin. Not exactly brain food, I admit, but I faced limited options. In my dorm room I had a minifridge and microwave, and that’s it (no hotpots or -plates allowed). I didn’t own a car, and the closest supermarket was miles from campus. The student union was your typical gauntlet of fast food stands complemented by serving lines ladling out overpriced tray-fuls of mashed potatoes, corn niblets and chicken parts. A food co-op operated nearby, but its horn o’ bowel-quickening plenty — carob almond mounds, sprouted spelt bagels, tempeh salad sandwiches — asked prices that meant only the very rare splurge. Chronically short of cash, I decided that a nice buzz was as important as a full belly and took the practical expedient to achieving both.
“As to the dinner, it’s perfectly delightful — nothing goes wrong, and everybody is in the very best of spirits, and disposed to please and be pleased. Grandpapa relates a circumstantial account of the purchase of the turkey, with a slight digression relative to the purchase of previous turkeys, on former Christmas-days, which grandmamma corroborates in the minutest particular. Uncle George tells stories, and carves poultry, and takes wine, and jokes with the children at the side-table, and winks at the cousins that are making love, or being made love to, and exhilarates everybody with his good humour and hospitality; and when, at last, a stout servant staggers in with a gigantic pudding, with a sprig of holly in the top, there is such a laughing, and shouting, and clapping of little chubby hands, and kicking up of fat dumpy legs, as can only be equalled by the applause with which the astonishing feat of pouring lighted brandy into mince-pies, is received by the younger visitors. Then the dessert! — and the wine! — and the fun!” –Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Dinner” (1836)