Written by Allan Hall

There are some for whom regular recipes will never be enough….

In July 1991 I first stepped into the dark, unfathomable world of eating humans when based in New York as the correspondent for The Sun. A man called Jefrey Dahmer had been arrested in Milwaukee where his fridge was found stuffed with body parts ready for the stove.

Dahmer had been pursuing his unique hobby for some years; luring strangers to his home, drugging them and killing them, stripping the flesh from their bodies, boiling their heads and then setting about preparing himself sumptuous feasts. When his fridge was full he used a filing cabinet as a makeshift pantry to keep arms and legs in.

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Upon landing in Milwaukee in July 1991 the police were still in the early stages of their probe into the former chocolate factory worker with a taste for homo sapiens. This meant that details of his exotic dishes were few and far between. Which in turn meant that I had to fall back on that invaluable skill of the true tabloid reporter – imagination.

With a five hour time difference between Milwaukee and London I needed to get a Jeffrey Dahmer tasting menu across to the newsdesk before noon if his palate was to be shared with Sun readers across their breakfast tables the next day. So what WOULD the discerning human hunter make for his supper?

I went large with hamburgers made of the supple flesh beneath the upper arms, meat patties of bicep muscles, escalopes of thigh and stews made from sinuous shin flesh. You get the idea – and although it was a culinary shot in the dark, the facts when they finally emerged, made the fiction look tame.

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Jeffrey, who killed, carved-up and chowed-down on 17 people between 1978 until the time of his apprehension, was far more accomplished in the kitchen than my imaginings supposed. Teriyaki foot for example, a char grilled delight marinated in red wine, Japanese Teriyaki sauce, cinnamon, ginger, minced garlic and sugar that was then cooked on the barbecue, was one of his favourites. He also liked to chop up breast flesh into tiny fillets and cook them in a cream-and-caper sauce.

Repelled? It doesn’t exactly float my boat, but I was determined that Jeffrey would not put me off my well-earned lunch after a hard morning spent exploring the murky recesses of his warped mind. Milwaukee is a city famous for its beer and its German restaurants, founded by the huge waves of immigrants from the Fatherland in the 19th century.

Mader’s is a place I would recommend. It was established in 1902, the era of “Bucket Boys” who toted a board dangling a half dozen pails of beer and visited office buildings to refresh the thirsty clerks. Back then Charles Mader would throw in the lunch for free if you managed to down two steins of beer one after the other, but no such luck now. Mader’s is kitsch writ large – it even boasts the world’s largest Hummel store. I know some people who would rather eat human flesh than dine amid the grotesque pottery, but if you can ignore the figurines, Mader’s will serve you a pretty good portion of the fare on offer in Germany.

“Deftig” is a much used word in Germany for hearty. Try this menu for a lunch or dinner on a cold winter’s day and pretend you have just returned from an appetite inducing walk in the Black Forest – or, dare I say it Jeffrey Dahmer’s old neighborhood – before you sit down to enjoy it.

The Roasted Veal Shank is often served with red cabbage and what follows is simply the best recipe for it I know. Make a day before if you have time as the flavour will improve overnight
Bread or potato dumplings form the final part of the Rinderrouladen ritual. Both are equally good – here is a cooked potato recipe given to me by a vineyard owner in Baden-Wuerrtemberg in southern Germany: they are perfect for mopping up the delicious sauce.
I spent the weekend in Milwaukee, enjoying several more German-themed meals, before exiting the world of the human hunter to return to New York. But I stepped into it again a decade later. That, too, had a German theme to it.

Berlin 2002

In 2002 I was freelancing in Berlin, still enjoying the fag end of the expense account lifestyle even as the newspapers of old sprinted towards their downfall in the coming digital age. This time the cannibal in question was named Armin Meiwes and, apart from, as the Germans say, not “having all his cups in the cupboard,” he turned out to be a true comedian as well as a cannibal.

Armin, a loner and a lonely man, single handedly put the spotlight on the shadowy world of cannibals and those who want to be eaten by them. Unlike Dahmer, a sexual predator unable to contain his killing urges, Armin was a restrained, soft spoken individual who made the entirely valid point that his “victim” WANTED more than anything to end up on his dinner plate.

His murder trial took place the following winter of 2003 in the unlovely city of Kassel. This was not far from the rambling country home where Armin constructed a butchery to kill and dismember potential dinner dates.

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On the first day of the trial he was asked when he first became interested in eating human flesh. He told judges that, as a boy of 10, he remembered watching the cheesy American TV show called ‘Flipper’ about a boy called Sandy and his dolphin. Armin said he fantasised about eating Sandy and would go to bed bound in plastic wrap, smeared in tomato sauce while imagining he was munching on his screen idol.

“I felt completely alone. I wanted an imaginary brother. I dreamed of someone like the teenager Sandy in the American TV series Flipper,” Meiwes told the court as the reason for the later consumption of Berlin computer programmer Bernd Brandes.

Brandes connected with Armin through weird sub-culture websites where people literally begged to be killed and eaten. Armin went on to have the court in stitches about failed encounters before he found the perfect guest for dinner.

One time a would-be meal said he wanted to be collected by him in a pig lorry, rolled around in dung and treated like a, well, pig before being slaughtered. “I wasn’t having any of that,” said Armin. “I’m not that kinky.”

On another occasion he had his supper trussed up, bound and immobile hanging by his feet in the slaughter room when he began to struggle. Armin removed the gag and asked him what was wrong. “He said he was having second thoughts,” Armin told the court. “So I cut him down, we went and had a pizza and then we went to the cinema together to watch Oceans 11.”

But the boyhood dream became reality through Brandes who drank cough medicine and alcohol at his home in March 2001 before Armin killed him – at Brandes’ request, the judges accepted – then watched a Star Trek film in another room before cutting him into meal-sized pieces.

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On the first day of the trial he was asked when he first became interested in eating human flesh. He told judges that, as a boy of 10, he remembered watching the cheesy American TV show called ‘Flipper’ about a boy called Sandy and his dolphin. Armin said he fantasised about eating Sandy and would go to bed bound in plastic wrap, smeared in tomato sauce while imagining he was munching on his screen idol.

“I felt completely alone. I wanted an imaginary brother. I dreamed of someone like the teenager Sandy in the American TV series Flipper,” Meiwes told the court as the reason for the later consumption of Berlin computer programmer Bernd Brandes.

Brandes connected with Armin through weird sub-culture websites where people literally begged to be killed and eaten. Armin went on to have the court in stitches about failed encounters before he found the perfect guest for dinner.

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Over the next 10 months, he ate about 40 lbs of human steak and mince. In later interviews, Meiwes said he sauteed the flesh with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and garlic. For sides, he had princess croquettes and brussels sprouts with a green pepper sauce. To drink, he preferred a glass of South African red wine.

The family of Bernd Brandes gave police his computer, eventually leading them to Armin’s home and his nearly empty freezer.

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If snakes and crocodiles taste of chicken, cannibals insist that humans are a cross between pork and spicy beef. I recommend the following recipe, picked up from a restaurant-owning pal in Cologne. It’s easier to find than another person who wants to be consumed. Italian food is the favourite of Germans when they eat out – this is a take on Saltimbocca, but made with turkey breast instead.

I watched Armin take his sentencing to nearly nine years in jail with the calmness he displayed throughout the trial. He managed, I think, to impress upon the court the central plank of his defence – namely that he did not murder someone in the accepted sense, but joined instead in a compact both wanted. Be that as it maybe, Armin was pursued by prosecutors who found his sentence too lenient, and he was ultimately imprisoned for life.

In jail he has foresworn all meat, even human flesh, to become a vegetarian.

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Dresden 2013

But his story was not the last of its kind in Germany. In 2013 policeman Detlev Guenzel was arrested for killing Polish-born businessman Wojciech Stempniewicz and cutting him into small pieces. Guenzel then buried the body parts in the garden of his bed and breakfast rental in Hartsmanndorf-Reichenau near Dresden. Guenzel and Stempniewicz met on the same kind of lurid website that had connected Armin and Brandes, advertised in Germany as “the number one site for exotic meat.”

Guenzel denied cannibalism, although the emails from his victim showed he shared the same desires to end up on the dinner table of a cannibal as Brandes. And the fact that some of Stempniewicz’s body was never found leads police to believe that he did snack on at least some of him, leading to a sentence in 2016 of eight years and seven months behind bars.

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I had to visit the scene of his crime as a tourist, try to get a bed for the night in his old B&B which Guenzel ran with his male partner. Luckily the place was closed when I turned up, leaving me to walk around the garden before heading off to Dresden for dinner and a more comfortable, and less creepy, berth.

Dresden, that great gothic city of the Saxon kings, so cruelly destroyed in the last days of WW2, subjected to 40 years of greyness and oppression during the cold war, is now enjoying a renaissance, both culturally and culinarily. It draws gourmets from all over Germany and the world to cutting-edge restaurants like the Genuss Atelier – where braised pork cheeks and saddle of veal are traditional German dishes, lightened and refined for a new generation of customers who want a little more than grandma’s cooking.