Cannibal recipe book

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  • Published: May 29, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Proteomics / Atomic / Infrared Spectroscopy / X-ray Spectrometry / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Base Peak / MRI Spectroscopy / NMR Knowledge Base / Raman / Chemometrics & Informatics

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Mexican cannibals who lived around 700-500 BC had a variety of recipes for cooking their macabre meals, some of them involving spices.

These fascinating conclusions were drawn by researchers in Mexico who used several spectroscopic techniques to examine human bones as they described in Archaeometry. From the appearance of the bones, it was clear that they had been part of a meal but their yellow and reddish colours also gave clues as to how they were prepared.

A combination of X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, energy-dispersive spectroscopy and ultraviolet spectroscopy showed that the grilling and boiling had been used. However, it is likely that they had also been cooked in axiote, also known as achiote or annat, an orange-red food dye that is used in cooking in Mexico even today. Other possible flavourings that were used are chilli and a dye known as pipián, a spice sauce.

There have been suggestions that the colour of cooked human bones was a result of the cooking temperature but for boiled bones, which are cooked below 100°C, the recipe also has an effect.

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