Monkey brains are a controversial foodstuff, often attributed to Chinese cuisine, but also found in that of certain other countries. The practice of eating monkey brains has led to over-hunting in Indonesia, especially due to the belief that eating the monkeys' brain can cure erectile dysfunction.
In Western popular culture, the consumption of monkey brains is repeatedly portrayed and debated, often in the context of portraying exotic cultures as exceptionally cruel, callous, and strange. It is often portrayed as follows:
The brain is eaten cooked.
The brain is eaten raw (occasionally directly out of the dead monkey's skull).
While they have been eaten in the wild, and were served at the Manchu Han Imperial Feast, it is unclear whether monkey brains have ever been served in a restaurant. In 1998, Apple Daily in Hong Kong printed pictures allegedly showing the practice; it is the only newspaper ever to have done so.
It is not only humans who eat the brains of monkeys. Both extant species of chimpanzee are known to eat the brains of monkeys which provide fat in their diet.
The Attic: Memoir of a Chinese Landlord's Son is a 1998 memoir of life in Communist China by Guanlong Cao, in which the author describes the eating of live monkey brains.
In Tama Janowitz's collection of stories, Slaves of New York, a character describes a dinner experience in which his fellow diners ate fresh monkey brains whilst on a business trip.
In a Calvin and Hobbes strip, when Calvin complains about the smell of his mother's cooking, saying "Whatever it is, I'm not eating it!", his mother tells him that the stuffed bell peppers she is preparing are actually "monkey heads". While Calvin's mother succeeds in making him eager to eat the peppers, his father is disgusted by her description and reacts with the same words that Calvin had used beforehand.
In the 1976 French soft-porn film Candice Candy (US title) starring Sylvia Bourdon, the title character is enticed to dine at a monkey brain table.
Serving live monkey brains was staged in the 1978 mondo filmFaces of Death, in which a scene shows a group of people eating the dish in this manner.