Sunday, April 15, 2012

Just Call Me Mrs. Lovett

Ahh, placentophagy. Lauded as a curative to postpartum depression, a galactagogue and an immune system booster. Decried as disgusting. Claimed to be an ancient practice (it's not--despite the placenta being held in reverence, tribal peoples do not engage in this, nor is there evidence it has ever been a popular practice) and Chinese medicine (who also use tiger claws and animal testicles). However, just because something is new, that does not make it bad. Kombucha, despite claims of being ancient, is only around 60 years old or so and it definitely does help cleanse the system and kills my headaches.

I thought about this before I gave birth and based on the science that does back placentophagy, I decided that raw was the most likely method to get the most benefits. Now, not able to eat raw meat, I planned to chop it up into tiny pill-sized pieces and freeze it to preserve and swallow whole, bit by bit.

This plan was thwarted when my husband, trying to forget about the organ we'd brought home with us from the birth center, tossed it straight into the freezer. Okay, I figured I'd just plant it at some point. Then I was given an amazing offer--students would encapsulate my placenta for free as well as create a tincture and an umbilical keepsake. Alas, not enough students would sign up for the class and this would not come to fruition. My placenta remained in the freezer, mostly forgotten.

Today, I was reminded when a friend posted about her own upcoming encapsulation and asked about tinctures. So, since I'll try just about anything once, I decided I'd cook mine up and get it out of the freezer. I figured if I was going to do it, I'd do it all the way and decided to make a steak.

First, I thawed my placenta.

The colored stains on the table were courtesy of my kids--they were painting earlier
This was really gross.

Then I cut off the umbilical cord and membranes. This was both fascinating and disgusting. The membrane was slippery and I ended up covered in blood. My aspiring midwife, Lilly (5) decided that she no longer wants to be a doctor or a midwife. Her sister, on the other hand, now wants to. She enjoyed watching me pulling the membranes off and held open the bag I threw them away in.
You can see the three blood vessels. This went back in the freezer after being washed.
It bled when I cut it
And washed the meat...

Then I seasoned it and pan fried it like a good steak:

Reminds me of a giant chicken heart--all that black is the blood

And I tried it. It was chewy. The taste was... well, I described it as chicken. If chickens sacrificed humans and drank our blood. I could definitely taste that it was human. Maybe that was psychological, or maybe it was just that this is a blood transporting organ and the flavor just wasn't going to go away. The outer part was pretty yummy and I could tell that had this not been organ meat, it would have been delicious. But it was very obviously organ meat. It had the taste of chicken heart, liver, marrow... that sort of thing.

So, because I'm twisted and don't like to be wasteful, I decided that I would try to eat it in a disguised fashion and planned to make meat pies. I had never done so before (nor had I even ever mashed potatoes by myself!), but I set out to do it all from scratch. First, I had to chop up the 'steak.'
It was this dark crimson unlike anything I'd seen before--this picture doesn't do it justice and it was warm through
Then I got recipes for crust and meat pies and went to work. We had two leftover potatoes from chicken teriyaki the other night, so I made mashed potatoes out of them. I had so much crust I decided to make two empanadas rather than one pie (so my husband could have a safe, chicken pie, lol). I put in a ton of cheese, potatoes (which came out delicious!), onions and meat. I threw out the center where the cord had been attached. I tossed out everything that wouldn't fit and I cooked them up.

The pie was amazing... until I got to the meat. It was even worse like this. I picked all the pieces out and threw them out. I couldn't force myself to eat any more. It was just flat out awful. I can't force myself to try any more methods. Maybe I wouldn't be able to taste it in a smoothie, but I don't want to ruin a whole smoothie if I can.

Definitely go with encapsulation if you can. I could not justify $200 (even in installments, as I was paying off the midwife and doula), did not have postpartum depression, have plentiful milk, etc. I feel no ill effects from eating it--quite the contrary. I actually do feel better than before I ate it (except for the gross aftertaste). We'll see if my perpetual crankiness of late is cured by this ;)

Now, if only I had a nice Chianti...

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