Betting On Eating

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Pablo Edronkin

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Cannibalism has been more common than normally accepted, and in some cases, the victim chosen to become lunch or dinner was selected by means of the use of odds.

Before steam engines were invented ships had to sail, depending solely on wind to cross the oceans; some of those trips became unintentionally extended and so food became scarce. In some cases, like Pigafetta described as Magellan's fleet crossed the Pacific Ocean, rodents would pay their price, and their natural by-products such as faeces and urine would be used to supplement boot soups and rotten biscuits.

But in other occasions the odds were even worse and someone just had to go: if the ship in question was transporting slaves, then a doubly unfortunate African would be served at night; if there were no slaves on board, someone belonging to the crew would become the duck at the table. Selling slaves was a big-time business and many people were at it, with a vengeance. In more recent times, slave trading was generally blamed - not surprisingly - on Jews, but in reality, until prohbitions were enforced, almost every government of every country, including African tribes that "harvested" people from their enemies, were happily selling people like cattle (See Slave Traders)... And of course, when they had a problem on board and could not call Houston, they just threw people to the water... And indeed, that was conveniently blamed unto Jews too.

And in order to choose who would be the unlucky winner straws were used: the one who got the shortest or the longest was then swiftly killed. In other cases, dice and even cards were used to decide the fate of sailors and officers.



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