Chews Wisely

Mis à jour : mars 3

Oh my friends, this is a story you really want to miss. So, please shut your laptop, put your phone down, and don’t even think about reading any further.

You’re still here I see. Ok, well, you were warned.

Daniel Lambert was born in 1770, at his parents' house in Blue Boar Lane, Leicester, to a very comfortable family in the employment of Harry Grey, the 4th Earl of Stamford.

Two years later, a man called Tarrare came into the world. As far as we know, he was born to a peasant family somewhere near Lyon, though the exact date eludes us. We don’t even know his full name, just Tarrare, and that’ll do just fine.

While Lambert grew into a fine strong fellow, with a keen love of the sporting life, like hunting otter, fishing for salmon, shooting hare and cony, racing fast horses, and breeding talented dogs, Tarrare was forced out of his home by his parents, who despaired of his upkeep, and saw no way of feeding the teenager for even one more day.

While Lambert ate healthily but not to extremes, yet seemed to put on weight by breathing, Tarrare’s appetite was utterly without limit, and his eating habits truly repulsive, and yet he added no weight to his emasculated body.

By the age of twenty-one, we find Lambert living comfortably, and succeeding his father as a well-liked and fair gaol keeper in Leicester, at the Bridewell gaol.

In contrast, Tararre was living a somewhat unconventional life.

Ejected from his home, the young man, whose appearance at first glance was ordinary, found himself alone and in want of a place to live, and eat. It seems a band of thieves, conmen, and ladies of the night, provided the answer. The group would tour France like a theatre company, the only difference being that while the show was going on, the thieves were pickpocketing the audience.

That show included Tarrare, their star attraction, a man who could eat anything.

Within a few years of arriving in Leicester, Lambert's weight reached a massive two-hundred kilograms, and he dedicated himself to fitness and healthy activities in a bid to reduce his bulk, once walking eleven kilometers at a clip and outpacing his companions. His weight did come with huge strength, and he was able to carry two-hundred-and-fifty kilograms with ease. He was also incredibly agile and flexible, and continued to teach swimming, and “was able to stay afloat with two grown men sitting on his back”.

Meanwhile, Tarrare’s life was taking a different path.

Part of the appeal of his act with the band of thieves was to eat what was thrown at him, which he did, without flinching, ravenously consuming strange items like corks and stones, and more obvious food like apples, though he ate an entire basket of them in one go. On one occasion Tarrare ate something that didn’t agree with his digestive system, and he was hospitalized briefly, while powerful laxatives helped disperse the object, whatever it was.

Trouble for Lambert started with his inability to earn a living. The traditional gaols were closing in favor of forced labor, and although he was given an annuity for his exceptional service at the Bridewell gaol, he was left without a job. And while the amount wasn’t insubstantial, it was insufficient to cover his living expenses. He was also unable to work because of his huge girth, and he became unemployable, depressed, and somewhat reclusive as a result.

Tarrare, conversely slim, was joining the Armée révolutionnaire française, where he was given four times the usual soldiers food ration, which didn’t come close to alleviating his desperate hunger.

And, I warn you again, turn back now, or live with the truth.

As a result, Tarrare would devour anything he could get his hands on. He would constantly eat other soldiers rations in exchange