31: Frog Legs

Frog legs, road kill, turtle, I have eaten a number of interesting things in my gastronomic excursion through life. Frog legs are actually pretty tame, considering. And yes, they do taste like chicken. What is actually interesting about frog legs is that I have actually helped to hunt the frogs, whose legs we later ate. THAT not too many people can claim! You hunt frogs with either a gig, which is a barbed fork on a long stick, or with a .22 rifle, if you are a crack shot, which of course, the men in my family all are. I am also a crack shot, because I hung around with the guys all the time, and a girl has to measure up. You go down to the pond late at night, after it is chilly enough that the rattlesnakes have gone to bed (I am  not kidding), and shine a flashlight around the edges of the pond. The frog’s eves light up in the beam of light, and you aim between their eyes (not kidding again). You know the frogs are there, because you can hear their deep, whou-whommp calls all the way to the pond. To prepare the legs, when you have harvested a sackful, you chop them off and skin them, batter them and deep fry them for a few minutes. Yum (ditto).

I have also eaten rattlesnake. The first time was at a rattlesnake roundup, one of those disappearing rites of Americana that are going the way of the dodo bird. It used to be like this: there were too many snakes in a southern Georgia community, so the snake-savvy men would get up a hunt, and go catch a bunch of them, which they then killed. You catch a rattlesnake by pouring a little gasoline down a gopher-turtle hole in the ground, which the snakes often share with the turtles. The fumes run the snakes out of the hole, and you catch them by holding their heads down with a forked stick. Since snakes do reproduce, this hunt turned into an annual thing. They learned that the venom (when the snakes were milked by another snake-savvy guy) was useful to make antivenom, that snakes taste good, and that zoos would buy the big ones, so it became a festival. Southerners will take any excuse to have a party, even when it is a snake barbeque. My first taste of rattlesnake was quite good, and yes, it tasted like chicken, but with the flaky texture of a big fish. Around the house, whenever we killed a snake that wandered too close to the residence for comfort, we cooked and ate him, too. Why be wasteful?

I have eaten road kill. Mind you, this is road kill I personally caused, like when a squirrel ran out in the middle of the road and dithered too long about which way to run: go on? go back? go on? go back? go on? go…too late……so, I stopped and picked him up. Why be wasteful? He (it was a he) made a wonderful squirrel-barley stew. Our youngest son eyed the dinner suspiciously (he knows me) and asked, “What is this?” I answered with a straight face, “Dog.” Not too sure why I did that, it just popped out all by itself. Really. Regardless, he did eat it, and he loved it so much that it has passed into family legend. I was reduced to actually hunting squirrel to satisfy him. I did confess it was squirrel, just not about the road kill thing. We have also dressed and eaten deer that played in the road, too. If he has already caused hundreds of dollars worth of damage to the car, at least I can get even a little by feasting on deer steaks afterwards.

I have eaten snapping turtle, and other varieties that others have harvested. I personally harvested the turtle. I was driving home (no, I did NOT run over him with the car) and the turtle chose that moment to cross the road from his pond to the other side of the road where the creek was. I stopped, my brother-in-law got a hammer from the trunk, picked up a stick which he offered to the turtle (the turtle promptly bit it, of course, that is why they are called “snapping” turtles) and then he got smacked in the head with the hammer. He weighed a LOT, but we managed to get him in the trunk, and my wonderful husband cleaned him when we got home. He (a boy turtle) made delicious turtle stew (no kidding).

Where do you think all that meat in those neat white containers in the grocery store come from? They don’t manufacture it at the meat factory……even if some people raised in the city think they do.

I have also eaten octopus, quail, pheasant, dove, squid, oysters, mussels and clams, home-raised chicken, hand-harvested wild mushrooms, goat, home-raised sheep, wild hog, freshwater eels, home-raised rabbit, wild turkey, wild rabbit, and alligator (wild and farm-raised). I have not eaten armadillo and opossum, even though I have shot and killed quite a number of them. If I got hungry, I probably would, but until that happens, they are just pests. And opossums smell *really* bad. Armadillos are just hard to clean. They don’t call them ‘possum-on-the-half-shell for nothing. When it came to opossum and armadillo, my principle of not wasting came smack up against my nose, which voted NO.

Now that I am in Morocco, I expected to run into other exotic things. Mostly, it has been sheep and chicken. Pretty tame, so far. I did get some delicious big, sweet acorns, though. Those are really good. That’s about it, so far. I saw camel meat offered in the media in Fez, once, but the decapitated head (and the very warm weather) put me off a bit. Nose voted NO. Maybe once cold weather sets in……

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