Darwin Was a Hardcore Foodie Who Ate His Animal Subjects

By Stephanie Weber

Charles Darwin famously categorized several new species while on studying the Galapagos Island. While you may know him as the famous evolutionist – detailing every animal he encountered for his research – you might not know that Darwin also ate all of those animals he encountered.

The First Foodie?

Darwin and his friends belonged to an exotic food club called The Glutton Club which was created when he was at Cambridge. What a great extracurricular!

he tasted all the new animals and plants in the region. He ate ostrich, puma, iguanas, and armadillos

The aim of the club was to eat anything rare, exotic, and new – even if that meant animals he may have been studying for class. They tried anything that was considered “strange flesh” and “unknown to the human palate”. The weekly club was very successful among the burgeoning science students who loved drinking port and trying new breeds of hawk.
You know – like how all college kids do!

Darwin was hungry for science. Like, literally.

They ate mostly rare birds, but famously ended their club once everyone ate a brown owl that didn’t taste too great. The meat was stringy and Darwin, who was usually very descriptive, described the taste simply as “indescribable”.

Galapagos Cuisine

When he made his voyage to the Galapagos on The Beagle, he let his adventurous spirit shine as he tasted all the new indigenous animals and plants in the region. He ate ostrich, puma, iguanas, and armadillos which he noted “tastes like duck”.

“Natural Selection” could be the name of Darwin’s line of exotic and healthy food, found at your local grocery store.

He also ate a large rodent that he did not document the name of which he described as the best meat he has ever tasted. Historians believe it may have been a guinea pig or an agouti which is now endangered, so please do not eat it no matter how tasty it may have been.

His favorite meat? Fried tortoise! He apparently fried and ate many giant tortoises while he was there and noted that the meat had a delicious buttery taste. The giant tortoise is also endangered now, so you might want to think twice before frying it up.

Despite his appetite, Darwin was first and foremost a scientist. During one Christmas meal he jumped up from the table once he realized the meat they were eating was a rare petise. He then gathered the remnants of his meat on the plate and took them to his study to examine. Guests were shocked at his rudeness, but Darwin’s curiosity was far more important to him than table manners.

Hey, Lizard. Iguana eat you.

Next time you are eating a new kind of meal, raise a glass of port to Charles Darwin, the original foodie.

Iguana: By Cayambe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Armadillo: By http://www.birdphotos.com (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

About the Author

Stephanie Weber
Stephanie Weber is a comedian and writer whose work has been published on Atlas Obscura, Slate, The AV Club, Reductress, The Whiskey Journal and more. She performs stand up comedy at The Lincoln Lodge in Chicago.

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