Eating lizards, lizard dishes, iguana soup recipe. Extreme cuisine.

In the Hollywood movie Beginner (1990), a mafia leader named Carmine Sabbatini, played by Marlon Brando, hires a college student (Matthew Broderick), who is in dire need of money, to pick up a parcel at Newark Airport. The parcel was a live representative of the lizards Komodo lizard on a leash. 

Eating lizards, lizard dishes, iguana soup recipe. Extreme cuisine.

The name Komodo comes from Komodo, a remote Indonesian island where only a few thousand of such monitor lizards remain. Once upon a time this largest lizard in the world, whose length reaches 3.5 meters and weighs 180 kilograms, was hunted for meat. However, today it is under the protection of the Indonesian government..

, mostly composed of feathers and bones. In addition, lizard meat is considered an exotic delicacy, and a restaurant visitor should be prepared to pay a tidy sum for the dish, similar to what they pay for wild leather products. It is clear that the same handbag made of leather of a bull, pig or other pet would cost them much cheaper.

In Nicaragua, superstition, religious beliefs and traditions determined the nature of the main Easter dish. This is iguana soup; In addition, the locals value it for its nutritional value and attribute to it the properties of an aphrodisiac. On the eve of the holiday, the cost of one lizard ranges from 1.5 to 10 dollars and depends mainly on the size of the animal. In many countries, iguanas are included in the list of protected species, including in Nicaragua. However, there the ban on hunting and eating these reptiles is violated all the time. Most often, iguana meat is cooked with rice and vegetables soup, called sopa de garrobo, or they are prepared with pinol, a paste that is spread on bread.

Another popular large lizard, the chuckwall, lives in the mountainous and desert terrain from American Utah to Mexico. She feels great on lifeless rocky soil, where she cleverly hides from Indian hunters in cracks and crevices. Climbing into such a shelter, the lizard begins to breathe faster, as a result of which it maximally fills the lungs with air and increases by 60 percent in size. To get chakvallu, hunters use a sharpened stick, which pierce the light lizards. A little aesthetic, but effective procedure, no worse than bullying a boar with dogs or slaughtering a pig.

The large chakvalla reaches 45 centimeters in length and almost 9 centimeters across. Its powerful tail and body are almost entirely meat. Usually this lizard is fried over an open fire and eaten with vegetables, tequila and lime. Sometimes chakvallu, like other lizards, are prepared together with rough and tough skin. In this case, the lizard, after removing the insides and separating the head, is placed directly on the hot coals and baked, constantly turning over. When the skin breaks, getting to the cooked meat is easy.

In the spaces from the Nile to Southeast Asia and further to Australia, people prey on a variety of monitor lizards, which are reduced copies of the chest of drawers. Australian aborigines roast lizards on charcoal, having previously coated with mud. This gives the same baking effect as when cooking poultry or fish in clay coating or foil. These and other smaller lizards are usually found basking in the sun and are either stunned by a sudden blow of a club on the head or caught by a loop attached to the end of a stick.

For comparison: even the largest geckos of Southeast Asia are smaller than lizards and iguanas, and a few are usually needed to prepare a serving. Especially when it comes to representatives of the smallest (up to 7.5 centimeters in length) species, often darting along walls and ceilings in people’s homes. Their local name, gin cho, imitates characteristic clicks made by babies. There is almost the only way to cook geckos. Fry in hot oil, although larger species, which reach 15 centimeters in length and live in the jungle (less often in houses), can be gutted to fry on a grate, like any other lizards.

In Vietnam, Hong Kong and China, geckos are placed in bottles with strong alcoholic drinks, in particular with rice wine and whiskey, after which the liquid is infused for about a year. In restaurants – usually those serving snakes – the price of 50 grams of such a drink is about a dollar. Pour it from cans of 5-10 liters. Smaller bottles, with one large gecko inside, can be bought at oriental stores and some souvenir shops in Asian airports for less than two dollars.

Dried geckos are sold in street bazaars in China, and in chinatowns around the world – in herbal stores. The lizard is ground, the powder is bred in hot water and drunk as a remedy for various diseases. Live lizards can be bought at many pet stores, as well as ordered by mail, but then the cost of the dish will be compared with the prices of Mr. Sabbatini. The price for individuals of common species is usually from $ 100, and for larger monitor lizards – up to $ 500. And this is not surprising, because they are sold as pets, almost family members.

Lizard recipe. Iguana soup.

1 iguana.
1.7 L of iguana broth (or chicken, as in this recipe).
2 chicken stock cubes.
1 clove of garlic.
1 branch of leek.
1 tomato, coarsely chopped.
1 onion with 3 cloves stuck in it.
1 green pepper, cut into 4 parts.
1/4 small head of cabbage.
1 teaspoon caraway seeds.
1 crushed nutmeg.
Salt and pepper.
60 g of vermicelli.

Refresh the iguana, then wash the meat and cut into portions. In a massive pan, boil chicken stock, add garlic, leek, tomato, green pepper and cabbage. Bring to a boil again and cook for half an hour on minimum heat. Add iguana meat to the broth and cook as before until the meat is soft (about half an hour).

Remove from heat. Strain the broth, remove the vegetables. Separate iguana meat from bones and place in a separate bowl. Put the broth on the fire again, add caraway, nutmeg, vermicelli, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the vermicelli softens, then add the iguana meat and let it warm up well. Serve the soup very hot with cornmeal porridge. The recipe is designed for 6 servings.

Based on the book Extreme Cuisine.
Jerry Hopkins.

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