E.keln is human. We are probably the only species that is disgusted with itself, with the evidence of our life and death, with excrement, body fluids, blood, but also with the customs of our fellow species whom we prefer to identify as bad habits. A disgusting package is not a green moldy pack of beer ham, but an unappetizing contemporary. A disgust. A creep. In the literal sense of the word, this unfavorable emotion does not even stop at your own person. “A quarter of an hour would be enough, I am sure, to bring myself to extreme self-disgust,” wrote the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre in his novel “The Disgust”. And there is still no talk of food.
Sartre loved roast pork. He even loved meat. The publicist Klaus Ebenhöh, who wrote a book about the tastes of famous philosophers, once called the French a “sausage fetishist”. Disgusting. But why?
The “powerful form of negative socialization”
Guilt is of course the conservative judge called society. The American psychologist Paul Rozin, who is considered a leading researcher of disgust, speaks of disgust as a “powerful form of negative socialization”: The hygienic defense function of disgust (for example against mold that makes you sick) is being expanded into a rule book for good behavior, which is not about physical but rather go to mental well-being. The fact that most Germans have never eaten dog meat is not primarily due to health or taste reasons.
Anyone who visits the recently opened Disgusting Food Museum in Berlin will discover that animal products are disgusting in different ways than plant-based foods. You don’t even have to try them, the pig snouts, which lie like perforated giant mushrooms in the clinical museum light to turn up your own organ just at the introduction. It is disgust in the heart instead of on the tongue.
“Disgust forms! Disgust tastes good! ”Is written on a board at the museum entrance, as well as a sentence from the Enlightenment philosopher Markus Herz:“ Disgust kills all ideas of beauty. ”Martin Völker, a friendly Berliner in his late forties, has a doctorate in aesthetics and is director of the Disgusting Food Museum. He worked as a lecturer for a long time, now he’s a lobbyist for the gross. Three-penis schnapps, sheep’s eye, mite cheese: Völker has it all. It takes a good dose of humor if, like him, you have to call butcher shops who are unsuspecting at work to order bull testicles or to sip fermented horse milk for service purposes.
The bottle of mouse wine is real too, and so are the “baby mouse corpses” lying tiny and dead in amber-colored Chinese rice wine down there. “Most people do not eat anything in which they can still recognize animals,” says Völker. “The eyes, tongue, nose, udder, heart are so closely connected to the animal that I know: If I have this on my plate, the animal is dead and I am responsible for it. The Wiener Schnitzel even has a breadcrumb coating on it, so I can easily ignore it. We’re pulling the curtain away. “