Go green, eat gator?
It may taste like chicken, but gator isn't just another white meat -- it's green.
Fri, Oct 16, 2009 at 05:42 PM
FRIED GATOR TAIL: Locals profess that it tastes like chicken. (Photo: Fenchurch!/Flickr)
Eating local when you're dining out isn't as easy as it used to be, even if you're eating only region-appropriate food. As The Atlantic points out, try ordering oysters in Savannah, where they are traditionally caught, and you're more likely to get farm-raised oysters from New England. And the apples in your New England apple pie were probably grown in New Zealand.
But there is still one local treat which is rarely found far from where it was produced: Louisiana alligator. If you think that going green is synonymous with eating local, then the last bastion of green eats might be the bayou.
Take Insta-Gator Ranch, a gator hatchery in Louisiana, which harvests eggs from wild alligators and then raises them for everything from watchstraps to boots. And of course, for eating too. According to Insta-Gator rancher Jon Price, the best gator meat is in the backstrap and underneath that giant snapping jaw. But it's meat from a gator's powerful, swooping tail which typically supplies the classic Louisianan deep-fried snack, gator-on-a-stick.
Most locals claim that gator tastes like chicken (surprise!), and it can be served just like any other meat. In New Orleans, that typically means in a gumbo, deep-fried or ground into a sausage. You can try snapping your jaws around some more adventurous dishes too, such as Alligator Beignet Lacoste, Alligator Sauce Piquant or Alligator Primavera.
In order to stay loyal to their local ways, Insta-Gator Ranch also gives back to the swamps from which it takes by re-introducing many of its grown gators back into the wild. Half-hearted eco-tourism is also good business for the ranch, and for a small fee you can play with the babies. (Not your typical petting zoo.)
In a world with an international economy and a daunting, unnavigable food chain, it's a funny notion that the one place you can still go to know what you're eating is the swamp.
Thumbnail photo: minds-eye/Flickr