Raw flesh

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When I was in my early twenties I discovered Maria Callas. For a former post-punk Goth this was something of a departure, yet given the whole 50’s/60’s glamour vibe and her apparent propensity for wearing black, these days it doesn’t seem so weird.

In one of my habitual, short-lived obsessive moments I read her biography. Amongst other things, at 5ft 8′ and 200lbs, she was One Of Us.  But then she shed 80lbs pretty damned fast. This was how I learned about tapeworms.

The gossip was that she had ingested her new pet – either deliberately, because, apparently, one can – or accidentally through her belovéd steak tartare (more on this later). Read the interweb and you’ll find sites recommending the little blighters as a dieting option. The logic being that they nab all the calories faster than you can ingest them so you don’t have to self-limit.

The downside, other than a lovely healthy, wriggling worm coiled in your gut, is nutritional deficiency, risk of cysts in the liver, eyes, brain and spinal cord and, wait for it….a high risk of death.

The undead former goth in me (despite my now working in a terribly polite, middle class corporate-ville buisness) quotes Peter Pan: ‘To die would be an awfully big adventure’ (go, Peter!). And anyway, no pain, no gain, right?

The upside is a projected 1-2lb weekly weight loss. Is that all? Surely, if one decides to play host to a parasitic social pariah one would expect serious weight loss as recompense. Blimey, you may as well learn to eat properly.

However, back to steak tartare. She loved it; loved it beyond measure. It’s raw steak, preferably fillet, diced finely with seasoning and a raw egg yolk.

Bleurgh, right? Who in god’s name would deliberately eat something so foul?

I live by the adage: if you haven’t tried it you can’t say you don’t like it. So when a free taster was offered (on a street stall in London of all places) it was deep-breath city and preparing to swallow damned fast. Keeping it down would be a bonus.

Oh, dear God, its heaven. Heaven, I tell you! Divine! These days, when I can justify the cost, I order it just for me, curling my arm around the platter and growling possessively if anyone comes near. And I take my time, eliciting rolling mews of piteous, helpless pleasure at each slowly savoured bite, occasionally breaking the monotony with a spot of table thumping.

These days the quality of the meat is improved and parasite free, though I suspect a chat with the butcher first would be a good idea. At 470 Calories per US Cup, with some crisp crackers or toast and a (calorifically budgeted) glass of crisp white wine, it’s the perfect light dinner.

There were times in my sludgebellied youth when a tapeworm sounded like a great idea. A fad diet that equals shrinkage without really having to change your life? Sold!  But not any more.

Callas? She occasionally comes up on the iPod shuffle. What a legacy.

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