The Reluctant Cannibals - Synopsis
When a group of food-obsessed academics at Oxford University form a dining society devoted to promoting gastronomy, what could possibly go wrong? More than they ever imagined. Their well-intentioned explorations of gastronomy lead them into murky waters with a dead Japanese diplomat, charges of grave robbing and a bizarre cannibalistic experiment.
The experiment is the brain-child of Professor Arthur Plantagenet. When told that he has a serious heart problem and may drop dead at any moment, he decides that his death should not be in vain. One night at dinner he announces his intention:
‘Gentlemen the grandest experiment in gastronomy is to answer the simple question, what is the taste of human flesh? I have therefore decided to donate my body to gastronomic science so that this very question can be decided beyond all doubt upon my death.’
Professor Plantagenet goes on to deliver an academic tour de force that cites the law, the bible and great literature to make his grandiose plan seem almost reasonable. This all seems like an entertaining diversion until after his death when the surviving five members of the society are called to the reading of his will. It is only then that they find themselves legally obliged to tackle gastronomy’s ultimate taboo. While Arthur’s leg hangs in the organ loft of the college chapel, slowing curing in the manner of Parma ham, his former colleagues battle with the moral, spiritual and practical challenges of their appointed task. To make matters worse they are pursued by the authorities over the death of the Japanese diplomat and the removal of body parts from the hospital morgue. Ultimately they decide that their only escape is to fulfil the demands of this bizarre will.