WHY DOES THIS BOOK HAVE CANNIBALS?

In August of 1563, Michel de Montaigne, the father of the essay form, was in Rouen, France, at the invitation of King Charles IX. It is not entirely clear why King Charles invited Montaigne, since the French monarch was only thirteen years old and Montaigne doesn’t come immediately to mind as a rollicking playtime companion.

In any case, also at Rouen that fateful weekend were three Tupinambá Indians, natives of what we now call Brazil, who had been lured onto a ship and transported to Europe for reasons not fully established by the historical record. One theory (mine) is that the French wanted these fellows to taste the coq au vin.

But it gets even more interesting: these men were cannibals. Thus it is entirely likely that if they had tasted the coq au vin and taken the recipe back to the rain forest on small index cards, they would have eventually applied their newly gained culinary knowledge to meats other than the thigh of the chicken.

If you'd like to know how all of this turns out, well, perhaps you might buy the book.