Trainees are taught that when stranded in the field, they should eat what they can find, which can include turtles, snakes, insects and other things normally considered unappetizing. The training helps them overcome their food aversions.You can imagine why we were talking about that. Just reabsorbing and digesting the classic Obama text: "I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy)."
... [A] running joke is that "food is a crutch" because survival school teaches soldiers how to overcome physical stress like hunger by using mental strength.
A Special Forces captain swallows a worm to the delight of his fellow trainees. Asked what it tasted like, the captain said, "Dirt. And kind of like a worm. Kind of fishy. Kind of fishy. "
I was saying: Isn't it interesting that he spoke of the texture, but not the taste? I was going to riff in the direction of portraying Obama as coolly Spock-like — missing one of the 5 senses, but then I veered toward literary analysis. It's a neatly compressed comic line: tough... tougher... crunchy. He sticks with the textures because it's funny to struggle through the tough sequence — tough, tougher — and then get — not what comes next grammatically: toughest — but crunchy! because — ha ha — we all know, whether we eat them or not, that insects are crunchy. In those few words,
you laugh and you're there inside the immediacy of what the small boy experienced. Once there, you can imagine the flood of sensation and emotion for yourself. The author restrains himself. He doesn't bother us with descriptions of how he felt. You've had enough. You've had dog-tough, snake-tougher, grasshopper-crunchy. You were there, eating it too, because you were a boy with a father and what would that be like?
Anyway, I love that there's a Wikipedia article for so many quite specific things that suddenly pop into your head. From the "Self-cannibalism" article:
As a natural occurrence: A certain amount of self-cannibalism occurs unwillingly, as the body consumes dead cells from the tongue and cheeks...Who are the true cannibals?
As a disorder or symptom thereof: Fingernail-biting that develops into fingernail-eating is a form of pica, although many do not consider nail biting as a true form of cannibalism....
As a choice: Some people will engage in self-cannibalism as an extreme form of body modification, for example eating their own skin. Others will drink their own blood, a practice called autovampirism, but sucking blood from wounds is generally not seen to be cannibalism. Placentophagy may be a form of self-cannibalism. On January 13, 2007, Chilean artist Marco Evaristti hosted a dinner party for his most intimate friends. The main meal was agnolotti pasta, which was topped with a meatball made from the artist's own fat, removed in the previous year in a liposuction operation.Citations omitted. And I'll spare you the "As a crime" section, which is really unpleasant. The "Cultural references" list is extensive (and suggests that if you can think up anything gross, there are numerous storytellers who've already gone there):
King Erysichthon from Greek mythology ate himself in insatiable hunger, given him, as a punishment, by Demeter.King's shipwreck survivor is a heroin smuggler, and the heroin helps him get through the food prep. There's more on the "Cultural references" list. I won't repeat it all, but it ends with "Radical Locavore."
In an Arthurian tale, King Agrestes of Camelot goes mad after massacring the Christian disciples of Josephus within his city, and eats his own hands.
Stephen King's short story "Survivor Type", about a man trapped on a small island.