How To Cook And Eat A Placenta Pizza

WARNING: The following article contains images that some people may find disturbing. What has been seen cannot be unseen...

No really. I'm not even kidding about this. There's a high chance that the below photos will make squeamish readers violently and repeatedly ill. If Lifehacker articles were movies, this one would be a double feature of Caligula and 120 Days Of Sodom. By comparison, it makes our infamous bacon milkshake post look like My Neighbour Totoro. Consider this your final warning.

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Last month, I welcomed my baby daughter Claire into the world. I then cooked and ate her placenta for the express purpose of this article. (Never let it be said that Lifehacker journos aren't committed to their jobs.) The experience was... unusual, and not something I'm likely to ever forget.

Placenta consumption is a complicated process — it involves more than just rummaging around in the afterbirth for something to eat. Below are the key steps you need to be aware of if you're keen to join the placentophagy club. On tonight's menu: placenta-and-tomato pizza!

STEP 1: Psyching Yourself Up

The first thing you need to do is formulate a satisfactory answer to the question: "why the HELL am I doing this? Am I CRAZY? Or what???"

The main reason to partake in human placentophagy is nutrition: the placenta is the main source of nourishment for the fetus in utero and is chock-full of iron, along with traces of hormones including progesterone, oxytocin, testosterone and estrogen.

The health benefits of the placenta are undisputed — why do you think other animals eat them? In fact, there are even professional services available that will encapsulate your placenta in the form of vitamin pills, as recently championed by Playboy bunny Holly Madison.

Placenta consumption is also supposed to help with mood, particularly post-natal depression, although this is disputed by some medical bodies. But even if it is a placebo, it will probably put a spring in your step; just like those heart-eating warriors of old.

If you happen to have Chinese ancestry, you could also use cultural tradition to convince yourself: placentas has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years (so has ground tiger penis, but we won't go there.)

On a final note, if you go through with this, you'll always be the "winner" whenever a group of people discuss the weirdest/grossest thing they've ever eaten. (Especially if you cryptically answer "human", which is technically valid).

We recommend embarking on Step 1 a few months before the actual birth — it will probably take this long to effectively psych yourself up.

STEP 2: Procuring The Placenta

This is more difficult than you might think. In the midst of the agony, beauty and chaos of childbirth, your placenta snacking plans are unlikely to be at the top of your mind. Priorities shift, and when you hold your newborn for the very first time, every other thought goes out the window.

Even if you do remember about the placenta, it's an incredibly awkward thing to ask about (approximately 1,000 times more uncomfortable than buying condoms as a teenager in my estimation). Nobody is going to ask if you'd like to take the placenta home either, so you're going to have to bring up the subject yourself. If you want to feel like a serial killer, pay close attention to their facial reactions — as you can imagine, it's not a request they receive often.

If you manage to drum up the courage, one of the midwives will eventually hand you a medical waste bucket containing your future meal. Handily, the container is airtight which means you can spend some quality time with your new baby instead of rushing home to the fridge. (Mine was sitting at room temperature for at least six hours and I didn't get sick.)

STEP 3: Choosing Your Recipe

Imagine if you only got to eat steak once or twice in your lifetime: how would you prepare it? How much research would you do?

This is arguably the most important step in the process and one that requires plenty of thought. After all, you only get one shot at this — if you muck things up, you'll need to wait at least a year before you get to try again. (Note: We don't condone making babies for the sole purpose of culinary afterbirth, in case you were wondering.)

The internet was actually less helpful than I was anticipating. Most online recipes appear to have been concocted by a gaggle of new-age hippies trying to out-gross each another. Here's a sample recipe:

Placenta Cocktail: 1/4 cup raw placenta 8oz V-8 juice 2 ice cubes 1/2 cup carrot. Blend at high speed for 10 seconds

I might be hardcore, but I'm not that hardcore. If you do some hunting, you'll be able to uncover some vaguely appetising options — placenta lasagna seems to be a popular option (if you're squeamish, it also hides most of the offending meat from view). In the end, I plumped for a placenta pizza using my own recipe.

It's a good idea to prepare all the other ingredients before you even look at the placenta — in addition to ensuring cleanliness, this will also decrease the odds of you backing out at the last minute.

STEP 4: Preparation

This is where shit gets real. Up to this point, the concept has been sufficiently abstract enough to seem palatable. But the moment you open that bucket, everything changes. You now have human organs on your kitchen bench — and your hands are about to get dirty. Seriously. Just look at that thing above. It looks like a photo-realistic Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Before you start slicing and dicing, you need to remove the placenta's outer membrane. This is a hideous undertaking, and the only moment when I considered pulling the (mucus) plug on the whole process. But I somehow managed to persevere.

Once the membrane and umbilical cord had been removed, I began to chop the placenta into bite sized cubes — some medical authorities recommend avoiding the inner side due to possible contaminants from the baby.

Alone in my kitchen (my wife wisely wanted no part in this), I started to go to some pretty dark places. Is this how convicted cannibal Ted Bundy felt as he prepared a midnight snack? Your mind becomes curiously detached from the horror in front of you, until you realise your hands have become too sticky to hold the knife. Sticky with human blood.

Once you've finished the grim deed, you'll probably need to have a sit down for a bit. I know I did. But the worst isn't over... you're still going to have to cook and eat this thing.

STEP 5: Ready, Steady, Cook!

I opted to sauté the placenta pieces in olive oil with diced onions and garlic. I ended up overcooking the meat due to paranoia (by this point, the placenta had been in our fridge for six days). The aroma was actually delicious, although that was mainly due to the onion and garlic which basically makes anything smell great.

Once thoroughly cooked, I arranged the placenta meat on my pre-prepared pizza and whacked it in the oven. There was no turning back now. I was about to tuck into my wife's afterbirth.

STEP 6: Taste Test

The moment of truth. I endeavored to get my wife to join me in my feast but she steadfastly refused. "But it came out of you", I argued. "So does feces," she replied. Touché.

I have to say, the meal wasn't nearly as gross as I was expecting. It tastes somewhere between veal and liver, though with a slightly tougher consistency. It's also a lot more flavoursome than your average supermarket meat; I was still smacking my lips hours afterwards.

While it's definitely an acquired taste, I'd say placenta makes for a perfectly serviceable pizza topping — provided you don't think too hard about what you're eating.

All in all, I'm happy I embarked on this experiment. It's one thing I can strike off my bucket list — and I still have the placenta bucket to prove it.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten? Share your stories in the comments section below.


Comments

    jesus f$#king christ i'm not sure whether i'm laughing or vomiting

    Loving the fact that the most viewed/commented panel and an ad for microsoft cover the text when I scroll down...

    That was some rogue HTML we've fixed, so you can now enjoy the post in all its glory :)

    I don't dispute that it might have tasted ok, or even delicious, but I really don't think we live in a society where it's necessary dine on parts of a human...

    As an amputee, would you elect to eat your discarded limb? I'm sure it would be delicious.

      That question is more interesting than you might have expected it. I mean there's not really any reason not to if it's in good health. Keep in mind people think eating non-typical animals is disgusting. Like cows, pigs and chickens were put on earth solely for our consumption and any other animal shouldn't be touched. Meat is meat after all! (I don't condone eating an amputated limb by the way, just thinking of this question logically lol)

      That aside, there are far more health benefits, as written in the article, to eating the placenta than to eating an amputated limb. Necessary? No. But a great source of vitamins/minerals? Absolutely.

      Anyway, enough logical thinking for one reply, I'm going to have lunch (that, in no way, has anything to do with the article I just read haha).

        I will eat your face with my face.

          not sure if cannibalism or pick-up line....

          http://i1.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/006/026/futuramafry.jpg

      Haha did you ever read a short story by Stephen King called Survivor Type? It's about a guy who cuts off parts of himself and eats them to stay alive. Hilariously, gloriously disgusting.

        VSauce did a thing on this, would save more energy keeping it on then you would digesting it..

        "if you are what you eat, then I'm exactly the same" (probably not verbatim but I'm not willing to read it again to find out)

      It is quite a sick logic. You don't feel grossed out of meat that required to kill an animal, you can eat animal internal organs, you can eat this meat even though you realise that it required to end someone's life and might be contaminated with parasites. But you are grossed out of meat that 1)did not required killing anyone (and even is a result of the new life been born), 2) is much much less likely to contain parasites, just because humans are much more hygienic than animals.
      I will never understand this logic.

    I was pretty OK with this until I realised that you are the father Chris...
    I thought you were the mother wanting to re-ingest some of the nutrients you lost during the birthing process, which seems gross to me, a father, but understandable - but it turned out you were just a freaky cannibal eating a part of your partner's body...
    Maybe you will grow some moobs now you've had that injection of estrogen...
    Or get mad cow [people] disease...
    urgh...

    I held my hand over the screen to scroll down to the comments.

    Oh god why would one do this? Surely this is cannibalism. I mean, just cut of your wife's foot if you are that hungry. *shudders*

    At least the chocolate butt plug article had some amusement value, this one... I think Angus is trolling?

    Best answer... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_9cAEaOCB0

    Last edited 27/03/13 1:54 pm

    Surely all you need with it are some fava beans and a nice chianti?

    LifeHacker - Keepin' it classy!

    nomming on placenta is pretty common in the animal kingdom. giving birth is pretty taxing, and a placenta is full of energy & nutrients & stuff, so it makes sense.

    but for humans, its not really necessary given that theres now so many other high-energy alternatives. still, whatever takes your fancy...

      One of the main reasons animals eat the placenta is to clean up, avoiding baiting predators. We don't really need to do that....

    Lots of mammals eat the placenta after birth, but it's supposed to be the Mother that eats it, not the Father. Blood loss is a big complication of childbirth and placenta is very iron rich. In some cultures, it is buried with respect for its role in sustaining life. Either way, it is a special thing and it seems a waste to just discard it the way we do. On another day we can talk about donating cord blood for stem cell research, or how we need more breast milk banks for children who need it (like premmies).

    "We were out of food at home. It was either this or KFC.... I stand by my choice..."

    Would have been enough for me to read.

      HAHA! at work atm and the KFC manager is here talking to another staff member! :) gold

    “So does feces,” she replied.

    Yep, sure. That's exactly what she said.

    "The health benefits of the placenta are undisputed" - I dispute this. In this day and age, adequate nutrition is provided by food bought in shops etc. We have MORE than enough options for nutritious food. As for the trace hormones, denatured by the cooking process I imagine.

    Brave, ...but weird and gross.

    Interestingly, the only other person I have met (knowingly) who ate placenta, was also the male partner, and HIS wife wanted no part in this.

    Dudes, outgrossing each other is getting a bit old, don't you think?

      You disputation rings rather hollow, since the claim isn't that there aren't other sources of nutrition, just that this is a good 'un.

      I think the disputation is valid. There is no evidence that the placenta provides any sort of nutritional benefit to humans. There is some suggestion that animals eat the placenta to assist with pain during multiple births, but that's only a theory...

      Here's a sensible article: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-04-02/national/35453595_1_placenta-mothers-postpartum

      Note the last two paragraphs on the first page... It also suggests that cooking the placenta breaks down the very proteins that might possibly be useful.

        This is a better disputation because you address the issue at hand :)

    This article should be tagged with "Mastercheap"
    http://www.lifehacker.com.au/tags/mastercheap/

    I don't know where to begin with this... So many questions, statements, and observations running through my head. D: So in no particular order:

    - the cooked placenta on the finished pizza looks like dog poo that has been left out in the sun on a hot footpath on a hot summer day
    - Doesn't the fact that you're technically eating human make you a little squeamish?
    - I keep going to type "polenta" rather than "placenta" (placenta polenta anyone?)
    - Why? :|
    - the preparation photos look like something you'd find in the kitchen of a serial killer
    - I think I'm going to be sick, but I can't look away
    - forgetting for a moment the proven nutritional benefits of eating a placenta, I wouldn't take any notice of anything to do with Chinese medicine, considering the weird-arse crap they use that have no proven health benefits at all
    - When did you discuss this with your wife? I take it that was an awkward conversation
    - that's going to make future family BBQs a little uncomfortable, especially if there are pregnant family members present

    Urgh... I think that's enough for now. D:

    polenta ?

      Polenta's made from cornmeal - a moist, yellow, rounded, log wrapped in plastic.

    Another reason animals in the wild will eat the placenta is to dispose of it. That way it won't attract predators.

    All these grossed-out comments are great. Hilarious reading.

    I'd be happy to give it a try. Come on, it's just another hunk of meat :P
    Props to the author.

    Wow dude you have guts, I don't think I could pull off something like this.

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