Sunday, March 08, 2015
stop the presses
This falls into the "man bites dog" news category.
Readers of these pages are aware of my fascination with crocodiles. Or, as some of you would have it, my crazy obsession with crocodiles.
For five years I lived on a laguna where I could see them, if not each night, at least, several times a week. All of that stopped last October when I moved further inland to Barra de Navidad's barrio -- where we are long on cultural flavor, but short of crocodiles.
The good folks at Papa Gallo's restaurant in San Patricio came to my rescue. If you are thinking they bought me a crocodile as a pet, you are half correct. They bought me a crocodile for dinner.
Taking into account my love for the critters, that may sound vaguely like buying a golden retriever puppy for my dinner. But there is a certain justice in eating something that is capable of eating you. That is one reason shark is about the only fish I will eat.
Papa Gallo's is taking a "walk on the wild side" -- as they cleverly advertise. On Friday night, the special was either crocodile or ostrich. I have eaten far more than my share of ostrich, and I love it. But that night, crocodile was making a starring appearing on my plate.
It came in two varieties. As crocodile fingers (think "chicken fingers," not full crocodile paws) as an appetizer and as a main course. I decided to jump right to the big plate.
I am not certain why the automatic response of some people is to aver that all exotic foods taste like chicken. They don't. Rattlesnake does not taste like chicken. Cat does not taste like chicken. Goat does not taste like chicken. They all have their own unique taste.
And certainly crocodile does not taste like chicken. I was tempted to compare it to alligator, but it does not. Crocodile must have less fat because it has the consistency of most Mexican beef. That is a nice way of saying it is very chewy.
But the chewiness allows you to enjoy the rather subtle taste of the meat. At first, I was a bit surprised at the slightly fishy flavor on top -- similar to Japanese beef. I shouldn't have been. After all, fish is the mainstay of the crocodile diet.
And underneath? I can simply say that it tasted like crocodile. And it was very good. Served with a spicy mango salsa, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and a basil reduction sauce, how could it miss? I would gladly have it again.
But that would mean I would miss the other items on the game menu -- ostrich, buffalo, and jabalin (wild pig). All coming to my plate soon.
In case you are wondering, each of the game items are sold on license. The crocodile from Chiapas; the ostrich from Nayarit; the buffalo from Veracruz and Nayarit; the jabalin from Nuevo Leon and Chiapas. To dine is to tour Mexico.
Having feasted on something wild, I decided to tackle a far more tame dessert -- a double scoop of black cherry ice cream from Thrifty.
Who says I do not know how to treat house guests? Well, I guess, as long as they are not crocodiles or jabalin.