Cabinet of Curiosities: The Wonderful World of Wonders…a Podcast

Greetings fellow readers! I am here to write to you all to explain why you should dive into the world of wonders. The best part of all is that exploring a universe has never been easier. Sure, there was once a time when we had to actually travel the world to explore, but it’s the 21st century now. We have new technological mediums to do that for us.

Not to say of course the once-great explorers are lame, but would you rather discover the curiosities of the universe through a podcast and a comfortable environment, or hop on a plane with what I presume will be lottery money and explore the world?? Okay, the latter sounds pretty awesome, but not the point! For those who gave up on winning the lottery, you can still learn about the crazy curiosities through the Cabinet of Curiosities.

Aaron Mahnke, host and author of several podcasts and books, created the Cabinet of Curiosities in partnership with How Stuff Works. You might know Mahnke from his incredible tv show, “Lore.”

The Cabinet of Curiosities guides its listeners on a tour to the “unbelievable, unsettling, and bizarre short tales about the most things on display in the pages of history,” (Mahnke, 2019). But enough about the appetizer course, i.e. the introduction to the podcast. Allow me to present the dinner course. Two of my favorite episodes that had me hooked into this galore paradise.

Episode 68: Ravenous

“Unique individuals can be both an inspiration and a warning,” (Spotify).

Image from Google Images

However, as the years went on and the kids moved out of the house, Samuelson and Harbo found that digging for clams was not a glamorous lifestyle. They yearned for adventure, wind, the open sea, and possibility. Weeks later, Harbo found an ad from a men’s magazine that he had often read. The National Police Gazette. In this ad, Richard Fox presents a $10,000 award to anyone brave enough to sail across the Atlantic. This was what Harbo and Samuelson were looking for! After draining out their savings Samuelson and Fox built their rowboat dubbed The Fox.

As of June 6, 1896, Samuelson and Harbo set sail for 55 days over 32 nautical miles. They reached their destination and met Fox in Paris who presented two gold medals. Oddly enough the $10,000 was absent, but to Samuelson and Harbo it didn’t matter. They took their adventure on a world-wide lecture explaining how they built their boat.

When it was time to return home, they felt it would be right to rest their arms. They went aboard a steamship. Once they had reached cape cod, however, the steamship ran out of coal. So, what better way is there to return home, but by rowing in the boat, you left with? And that is what they did. They plopped their boat into the water and sailed home.

The next tale Mahnke regales is of the man who had an extraordinary talent. This man was known as Tarrare, the iron stomach. Born in France during the 1700s, Tarrare formed a ginormous appetite. People knew him as the man with the bottomless pit. Why? Well, simply because he never gained a pound, and anything he could fit into his mouth, he ate.

His appetite was so grand that his family couldn’t afford to keep him. So, what is the next best thing to do in France during the 1700s?? Become a sideshow act. Exploited by his outrageous metabolism, Tarrare had begun to stray away from his usual consumptions of meat. Instead, he started turning to rocks, and live animals.

Tarrare came to be known as a foul-smelling individual who ran into intestinal problems. After a hospital stay, he realized he needed to do better for his stomach. So, he joined the French military. However, just as he became sick of eating, he also became sick for not eating. During his time in the military, scientists performed various tests. They found that when Tarrare’s stomach was empty it became a way to transport messages to prisoner soldiers. This plan did not get very far as he was soon captured.

Afraid and naïve, he told the enemies everything about the box that was inside of him, along with the secret message. The message said nothing. After the military, Tarrare returned to France as a civilian; and after further despair about his life choices, he checked himself into a local hospital.

During his stay, he spent his nights looking for things to eat, such as patients’ blood, limbs in the morgue, entrails in butcher shops, and stray animals. He was also speculated for eating a baby, which lead to his eviction. Years later he died. The autopsy didn’t get very far due to the foul smell. They did discover that his stomach was riddled with infections, but that was not the cause of death. He died of tuberculosis, otherwise known as, consumption.

Now that you have had the dinner course, it is now time for me to satiate your appetite with dessert. And what better dessert could there be than a dream?

Episode 117: Living a Dream

“Sometimes the most amazing stories are about people who found a way to stand out in a crowd,” (Spotify).

Born in England 1784, Buckland found his home in education, again very Dorothy Zbornack. He has developed many accomplishments, one especially in naming a dinosaur, Megalosaurus. Though, this was not enough for William, for he wanted to be the first at everything. He figured if he wanted to be the first, he should turn to his passion…food.

Image from Google Images

William Buckland was known for eating mice on toast, along with other unconventional animals. His friends encouraged this as well, and eventually, his dream to eat every single animal on earth was born. He also kept several of his…uh.. souvenirs, as pets. “Eccentric,” was what people called and referred to him as. Eventually, he grew tired of eating exotic creatures (no kidding?).

In the early 1800’s he took a trip to Italy. He went to a cathedral, for who knows what reason, and asked one of the clergymen why the floor was wet. The clergyman said it was blood from the sacrificed, (real helpful). Buckland didn’t believe it and lapped up the mysterious liquid from the floor. It turned out to be bat urine. But this was not his most egregious act, oh no. His most egregious act was found at a party hosted by Lord Harcourt.

Lord Harcourt was hosting a party for the purpose of showing his locket. A locket that appeared to have a nut inside. Oh, but this was no ordinary nut. This nut happened to be King Louis IV, mummified heart. When William saw this, he announced,

“I have eaten many exotic things, but I have never eaten the heart of a King.”

The man doesn’t stop! Well, fortunately for him, he was not immediately ostracized. There are no records as to what the Harcourts did, but eventually, Buckland went to success as a scientist and educator. He died in 1856, and his son Francis followed his footsteps. It turned out however, Francis didn’t have the stomach for it.

Well, folks, these are my favorite episodes. I do hope I satiated your appetite and inspired you to see for yourself the curiosities of the world. For me, this podcast is more than passing by time. The Cabinet of Curiosities ceaselessly surprises me with all the absurd theories, events, folklore, legends, myths, everything. This may sound cliché, but each time I listen to this podcast, I feel myself growing closer to understanding history and people as we once knew them. Their motivations, dreams, ideals, way of thought, their humanity. In a way, there is a bond between history and myself, and I wish to spread this bond with other like-minded curiosity cravers. With that, I bid adieu. Bon Appetit!



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Mela Lozano

Professional Writer and Freelancer with a food blog titled Coffee and Doughnuts. Lover of cats, dogs, and books.