Packed with more vitamins and nutrients per cubic centimeter than the patented "moon bars" developed by NASA scientists for the Apollo space program and as natural as mother's milk, the humble placenta is set to take its rightful place as the post-partum "superfood" of an increasingly diet conscious millennium.
With a "eeeeuw" factor that's off the richter scale and a history dating back to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, placenta munching is the latest fad sweeping the birthing pools of the uber-rich. From Hollywood celebrities to NFL jocks it seems as if absolutely everybody wants a piece of the post-natal pie.
And here's the knockout punch - it's a global phenomenon! In Guang Zhou China, as a result of China's "one-child" policy, prime specimens harvested from needy rural families exchange hands on the black-market for the cost of an average monthly salary. Here, in a recipe said to have been served to the emperor himself, the placenta is "double boiled" in a rich soup with Abalone, Sea Cucumber, Ginseng, and "dong quai", and sipped from delicate porcelain bowls in the private rooms of air-conditioned restaurants by rich merchants and government officials seeking its health enhancing properties which are said to include; longevity, wisdom, fairer skin and improved sexual performance.
Our Scandinavian cousins press the fresh placenta between pine boards that are buried in salt for a month before being hung in open sheds to ferment in the icy winds of the tundra. After six months, the boards are prized apart, what's left of the placenta is fed to the huskies and the pine boards, softened by enzymes and having absorbed the flavours and nutrients of the placenta itself, are shredded and served as a salad with generous chunks of fresh seal blubber.
Personally, as a nutritionist, gourmand and father of fifteen, I've tried it every which way from "Southern Style"; coated with breadcrumbs flavoured with the colonel's secret blend of seven herbs and spices, deep fried and served with corn-bread, (wash it down with a mint-julep my friend) to "Florentine"; lightly fried, laid on a bed of wilted spinach and topped with a soft poached egg. But for all of you "first timers" here's my personal favourite recipe for "Placenta flambe a la Francais".
In your sauté pan, soften finely chopped shallots, garlic and celery in foaming butter. Add the placenta, still warm from the womb, and sauté for 2-3 minutes (medium) or 4-5 minutes (well done). Season to taste with good sea-salt and a grind or two of fresh black pepper. Add a generous "sloosh" of fine Napolean Brandy and flame for a few seconds before finishing with a dash of double cream and serving with an accompaniment of lightly steamed spring veg or a mixed green salad with balsamic dressing.