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title: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
author: Mary Roach (Twitter)
first line: In 1968, on the Berkeley campus of the University of California, six young men undertook an irregular and unprecedented act.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
The alimentary canal — the much-maligned tube from mouth to rear — is as taboo, in its way, as the cadavers in Stiff, and as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. In Gulp we meet the scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks —or has the courage —to ask. How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? Can wine tasters really tell a $10 bottle from a $100 bottle? Why is crunchy food so appealing? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? We go on location to a pet food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.
Mary Roach one of those authors I discovered through book blogging years ago. I have been meaning to read Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers for a while, but I had a copy of Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal on my shelves and finally dove into it. I have zero recollection of purchasing this book, but I know I bought it at some point a few years back.
This was an interesting reading experience. The author has a knack for infusing humor into her writing, she grossed me out a little but also made me laugh.
I never knew people taste tested pet food, why would they anyway? She also discusses the taboos behind eating certain foods. There is an entire chapter on saliva and one on William Beaumont and Alexis St. Martin and his experiments. The author introduces you to all kinds of strange experiments as different scientists discuss and examine the digestive tract. There is a chapter on constipation and how it can kill you.
We are large, mobile vessels of the very substances we find most repulsive. Provided they stay within the boundaries of the self, we feel no disgust. They’re part of the whole, the thing we cherish most.
p.116, Gulp by Mary Roach
Gulp was entertaining and I grossed out hubby and kids from time to time as I read by sharing a few icky facts, so that was nice. I need to be brave a grab a copy of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.
Before you get all high and mighty on the chimps and the Hadza, you should know that the most expensive coffee beans in the world-at upwards of two hundred dollars a pound- are those that have passed through the digestive tract of the civet, a catlike animal native to Indonesia. The animal’s digestive enzymes are said to alter the taste of the beans in a pleasing manner.
p.277, Gulp by Mary Roach
Note to self, make sure I’m only drinking good old regular priced Dunkin’ coffee that hopefully has not been passed through any animal’s digestive tract in order to enhance the flavor.
About the author:
Mary Roach is the author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Her writing has appeared in Outside, Wired, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She lives in Oakland, California. (quoted from Amazon.com)
Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of Gulp by Mary Roach. Nothing in this post is available for download, the book photo is my own.