Tarrare: The Tragic Story Of A Man With An Insatiable Appetite

Indeed you have probably said that you are so hungry that you could eat a horse. Usually, we mean it only figuratively. In fact, we will also be satisfied with pork cutlet or other goodness in a reasonable, average amount. However, this cannot be said of the French entertainer Tarrare, who lived in the 18th century.

He would really eat the horse. And not only that.

Tarrare Ate Portions Of Food That Would Be Enough For 15 People

Tarrare: The Medical Riddle Of A Man With An Insatiable Appetite

Tarrare was born in 1772 in Lyon, France. However, not the French you see in your imagination: in a beret, striped uniform, with a curled mustache and a glass of wine in his hand. No, Tarrate was the truest pig in all the literalness of this seemingly derogatory meaning. He had been able to eat enough food to feed 15 people and devour whole cats. As a teenager, he was able to eat a quarter of a bull in a single day. His appetite was truly insatiable.

People did not dare to leave their pets in the same room with him because they were afraid that a man with a bottomless stomach would eat them.

Tarrare liked to eat. No, he loved to eat. He couldn't stop eating. And although there was little evidence (apart from a sizable mouth and a belly so low that he could wrap it around his waist) that he had a problem with satisfying his hunger, it was a severe problem.

After all, he led his family to the brink of starvation through his unrestrained appetite because he ate everything in his immediate vicinity. In the end, desperate (and staggering with exhaustion), his relatives decided to throw him out of the house.

He Wasn't Obese, He Looked Like He Was Starving

Tarrare: The Medical Riddle Of A Man With An Insatiable Appetite

If you think Tarrare must have been highly obese, you are wrong. On the contrary, he seemed to be starving all the time. He did not weigh even 50 kilograms, and in some places, he could have been considered malnourished. Under normal circumstances, it might not bother anyone that a man ate for a few burly men. But in war, every bite is rare, so many people had this eater under a watchful eye.

Although Tarrare was malnourished at first glance, when he ate, his stomach grew to enormous proportions. Doctors at the time claimed that after Tarrare ate everything he could reach, he pulled himself into the bathroom and got everything out of him again.

The skin that had been stretched before has now weakened. All this, and the fact that he was sweating profusely, made Tarrare smell unbelievable, sometimes so that he could not even get close to him.

A Circus Attraction

Tarrare: The Tragic Story Of A Man With An Insatiable Appetite

A boy still in his teens ended up on the pavement (read: threshing floor), where, to quote Jan Bondeson, he was taken in by a gang of thieves, whores, and vagabonds. It was probably they who started to call him Tarrare. It is speculated that it was not his real name, but only the ending of the famous phrase bom-bom tarrare, a synonym for the loud explosion. And since the newly disinherited youth could make his presence known loudly without using words, Tarrare seemed to fit him perfectly.

Anyway, the constant sweating and always smelly boy was soon hired by a wandering charlatan for shows at which he just needed to eat. The admirably slim guy was supposed to amaze the onlookers by swallowing whole stones and live animals. Seeing this, the simpletons immediately pulled out money from behind their pockets, buying suspicious medicines from the false herbalist and Tarrare's guardian.

Ultimately, after disconnecting from the scammer, Tarrare decided to become his own boss and personally prepare his show with a swallow. Unfortunately, the diet consisting of stones, dead rats, and rotten apples did not serve him well, as evidenced by his forced hospital stay, where he ended up with a clogged intestine. However, this did not prevent him from eating the watch of the surgeon who operated on him, who then threw it on his broken face, threatening to use a blunt sword the next time. And so Tarrare had to run away again.

He found refuge only in the army, which he was supposed to fight in a tricolor uniform during the formation of the 1st anti-French coalition. Unfortunately, the military did not provide him with food rations (and these were quadruple). So, Tarrare had to use whatever he found in the roadside ditches.

He ate cats, snakes, dogs, and lizards. He became famous for swallowing a live eel and eating a meal that would have eaten up to 15 German forced laborers - the latter as part of a medical experiment to investigate the causes of its insatiability. The observers of all this, M. Courville and Pierre-François Percy, probably the best field surgeons of the time, were amazed. And find explanations for this state of affairs.

Cannibalism

Tarrare: The Medical Riddle Of A Man With An Insatiable Appetite

The French army, however, did not want to give up Tarrare's services. Wanting to use the unusual talent of the always hungry private, he was appointed a courier. A spy who was supposed to swallow parcels and smuggle them behind enemy lines in his stomach, then retrieving them from the stool he excreted.

Unfortunately, already during the first mission, Tarrare fell into the hands of the Prussians, who brutally tortured him, waited for him to defect the parcel. When they saw that its content was banal, they returned him to the French side. After this incident, the man was ready to do anything to stop eating.

No diet or medication worked, and Tarrare continued to eat whatever he could get his hands on, often eluding Courville and Percy. He searched the streets for leftover food but had to be content with garbage. When he could not find anything outside, he would return to the hospital, where he was repeatedly caught drinking bloodshed from wounded patients and eating corpses from the morgue.

Medical Puzzle

Tarrare: The Medical Riddle Of A Man With An Insatiable Appetite

However, he was only thrown out of the hospital walls when a newborn child disappeared under mysterious circumstances. I do not need to say who was first suspected of the macabre nature of sneaky.

The protagonist of this story then vanished for four years to return to the Versailles hospital in 1798, where the patient with chronic tuberculosis died at the age of 26. The cause of the ultimate suppression of hunger was bleeding to death due to exudative diarrhea.

When the disgust was overcome a few days later, an autopsy discovered that the deceased's esophagus was unexpectedly wide. The latter was almost completely covered with pus, flowing from the ulcers completely covering its walls. What's more, you could see inside the massive stomach with the naked eye.

Tarrare: The Tragic Story Of A Man With An Insatiable Appetite

The stench that rose after cutting the bowels of the ailing poor man was so cruel that further research was quickly abandoned. However, this strange case was described in so many prestigious medical publications of the time that it is certainly not a figment of a French simpleton who likes macabre.

Tarrare's gluttony was even an inspiration for an episode of the X-files. If you remember the twentieth episode of the second series of the X-Files, know that the unbridled hunger of the "monster" portrayed on screen, despite the comic meaning of this episode of the series, is not entirely a writer's invention.