You know those folks who travel to disaster zones (Haiti, Oklahoma, etc.) and hand out not food, not medicine, but Bibles? Turns out they’re not useless after all–as long as the Bibles have leather covers.
You see, back in Renaissance Europe, Catholics and Protestants were doing the whole war thing all over the western half of the continent, especially France. The Huguenots, French Protestants, had an especially bad time of it, with Catholic armies besieging every Huguenot controlled city they could find, down to small towns and villages. One such village was under siege for so long they were reduced to eating leather. Being French, of course, they made it edible.
From a letter found in a 1969 collection called The Huguenot Wars: An Eyewitness Account (via The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part I comes the recipe: soak the leather (shoes or something, I guess) in brine for at least a day, changing the water often, braise until tender with roots and herbs, and sauté it in fat. The author of the account apparently describes it as “one of the most delicious things [I] have ever eaten.”
Another letter (or maybe the same one–I haven’t seen the original source), from a pastor called Jean de Lery, has a similar recipe for boiled drum skins: first soaked for 2 days, then scraped with a knife and boiled until tender enough for you to scratch with your fingers and see if they’re glutinous. Cut the result into small pieces, the whole affair is then seasoned with herbs and spices.
See? Bibles are useful, after all. They can feed the people, if they’re the nice fancy kind with leather covers.
But somehow I doubt people in disaster zones are receiving nice leather Bibles. Maybe some enterprising soul with come up some kind of lentil soup equivalent you can make out of the wood pulp from paper.