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I'm looking for a short story I read probably 30 years ago.

The two main characters in the story were food designers who specialized in cultured meat grown from cells cloned from unlikely sources. They seemed almost like a cross between geneticists and fashion designers, producing new, interesting meats that would become trendy. I seem to recall that one of their hits was steak-sized meat cultured from lark's tongue cells.

At the end of the story they're presenting their latest creation, offering tastes but without saying what it is. The taster loves it. The twist, of course, is that it's cultured human flesh, a steak made from cells cloned from one of the main characters.

The ending might be a bit predictable but this was the first time I had heard of some of the ideas, and as a kid it was kind of mind blowing.

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    There is a vague reference to a similar incidence in Stross' Rule 34, and Niven's short story "Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing!" (a Draco's tavern story to be found in the Draco's tavern collection and in Convergent Series) is also apropo. Jul 22, 2013 at 23:41
  • I vaguely remember something... They first told people it was made from kelp, didn't they?
    – Mr Lister
    Jul 24, 2013 at 19:05

2 Answers 2

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Pleased to Meat You by Stephen L. Burns

I searched for meat lark's tongue subject:"science fiction" in Google books and Analog Science Fiction/science Fact, Volume 108 came up:

“You've cultured them as individual tongues! They're not just sliced and shaped out of a tissue block!" ' Sure enough, his plate contained a small soleille of Dijon mustard spiced with tarragon, surrounded by arrowhead-shaped lark's-tongues arranged in a sunburst pattern.

Here's a fragment showing cultured human flesh discussion:

Del looked wistful. "Good? It was the best neomeat I've ever tasted!" His face hardened. "But it was human flesh!" Timmy only smiled. The expression on Slim's face made him appear almost as simple as Timmy, but it was a sign that he was deep in thought. Janna shrugged, her face mirroring her words. "So what? The initial tissues were given voluntarily — I ought to know. I donated them. Implanting cultured human tissues isn't wrong, is it? Human tissue is already a commodity." "Implanting isn't eating! That's immoral! Sweet Jesus, you're talking about cannibalism!

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Sounds close to Arthur C. Clarke's Food of the Gods, only this one consists solely of one side of a dialogue between a food manufacturer and a congressional committee.

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  • That does sound similar (I found a summary, and another) but not quite the same. In the one I'm thinking of everyone knew they were eating meat and where it came from, and I'm pretty sure no congressional testimony was involved. I'll have to find a copy and make sure. Jul 22, 2013 at 17:55

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