Eating meat of alligators and crocodiles, dishes from alligators and crocodiles. Extreme cuisine.

For decades, there has been an urban myth that supposedly people who bought small crocodiles as pets, eventually get rid of them, flushing down the toilet. As a result, they say, a whole population of monstrous crocodiles living in the labyrinths of urban sewers has formed. 

Eating meat of alligators and crocodiles, dishes from alligators and crocodiles. Extreme cuisine.

At the same time, there are other human relationships with these reptiles. So, for decades, alligator fighting has been a popular attraction in the American South. And shows with crocodiles invariably attract the attention of tourists in Australia and Southeast Asia. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people watch with horror as the trainer opens the mouth of the reptile, with teeth the size of the thumb of an adult man, and puts his head in it.

and sell in supermarkets. And in the restaurant of one of the hotels near Victoria Falls in Africa, customers are offered to try Crocodile Thermidor.

Crocodiles and their relatives alligators – they are smaller in size and have a narrower face – are found in tropical swamps around the world, including in the Nile floodplain. In Southeast Asia, Australia and the southern United States, from Carolina to Texas. Both of them are amazingly agile both in water and on land, armed with powerful jaws, more designed to capture and swallow a victim, and not to chew. Some subspecies prefer fresh water, others prefer salt water, and some feel great in both. And all without exception are carnivores. Several species are threatened with extinction, while the position of others is defined as controlled, which means close monitoring of the size of the population and commercial use only when the number allows.

The American alligator was included in the number of specially protected in 1967, when the number of individuals decreased approximately to 100 thousand, but today it is not in danger. In Florida alone, there are about a million alligators, plus 100 thousand on farms engaged in their commercial farming. Having lost the status of an endangered species, American alligators have become a source of meat to the table of residents and guests of the predominantly American South, and mainly Florida, Louisiana and Texas, where most of the crocodile farms are located.

A similar situation is emerging in Australia. There dangerous crocodiles living in the salty waters of the northern coast were once on the verge of extinction, but after a number of years of active security work, their numbers increased so much that today these toothy reptiles themselves pose a serious problem. In the tropics of the Northern Territory, the population grew from 5 thousand individuals in 1971, when hunting was banned, to about 70 thousand in 1998. But even then the ban remained in effect, depriving Aboriginal people of their usual food. The natives did not want to put up with this and came out in defense of their traditional way of life and diet.

At the same time, during a state visit to the country in 1997 by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, guests along with kangaroo satay were treated to crocodile stew. How could this happen? Everything is simple. The meat came from a farm licensed to sell it. From then to this day, on an Australian barbecue, the pale flesh of a crocodile is no less popular than shrimp. Today, crocodile meat goes on sale from farms where these reptiles are bred, sometimes with the participation of state capital. Along with small, usually state-owned farms, for example in the Philippines, there are large commercial enterprises with an impressive turnover.

In particular, they operate in the southern United States, where a real hunt for alligators in the wild is organized, after which the carcasses are sent to meat processing plants and factories where steaks are cut from meat and shoes are sewn from leather. Unsurprisingly, the United States dominates this market as the world’s largest exporter. Among the most active buyers (mainly leather) are France, Italy, Germany and Japan. For producers in Australia and Southeast Asia, where these reptiles are bred in captivity, the largest consumers (mainly meat) are China and other Asian countries..

Crocodile oil, which is widely used as a stabilizer in the manufacture of perfumes and cosmetics, is also in demand. In Brazil, Bolivia, and Madagascar, it is considered an effective treatment for any disease, from asthma to baldness. Crocodile teeth, head and bones are sold as souvenirs. Considering that almost everywhere the commercial use of reptiles is strictly regulated and the number of individuals intended for the market is limited, the cost of everything that can be obtained from a crocodile and alligator is high.

The world’s largest crocodile.

The fossil remains of crocodiles are found in rocks belonging to the dinosaur era. Ancient crocodiles differed little from modern sizes (although, of course, were larger) and in appearance and hunted small dinosaurs the size of an antelope that came to the banks of rivers and lakes for watering. They were perceived differently by man. In ancient Egypt, the god Sebek was portrayed in the guise of a crocodile. For some time, these reptiles were considered sacred animals here and were embalmed after death. In Arabia, a crocodile trial was practiced at one time. A suspect in a crime was found not guilty if he was neglected by a hungry crocodile.

In the Philippines, the island of Borneo, and in parts of West Africa, domestic and wild animals were regularly sacrificed to crocodiles. This was done for religious reasons. Although it is also obvious that a well-fed crocodile is a more pleasant neighbor than a hungry one. In many tales of the peoples of the South Pacific region, crocodiles appear as lovers of local women. The words crocodile and alligator are sometimes used as synonyms. Although those and other animals really belong to the order of reptiles. These are still representatives of different families, and it is easiest to distinguish them by head. The crocodile’s muzzle is wide, resembling a somewhat rounded rectangle, at the corners of which are eyes and nostrils.

The alligator has a cone-shaped head and is closer in shape to a triangle. It is believed that in relation to humans, alligators behave much less aggressively than crocodiles. In Florida, I personally watched as one photographer plunged into the swamp water on his chest and approached the alligator nose to nose to take a spectacular shot. The reptile did not show the slightest interest in him. Like most cold-blooded animals, crocodiles and alligators spend most of their time on the beach, basking in the sun and maintaining a constant body temperature. They also tend to open their mouths wide, allowing air to flow around the thin mucous membrane..

This natural need for reptiles partly eases the task for crocodile riders. But only partly, the naturalness of the posture does not guarantee safety to the person who placed his head between the jaws studded with sharp teeth. Therefore, only well-fed animals are allowed to speak. According to sources, the largest were crocodiles that lived in the salt waters of river estuaries. Today, they have disappeared almost everywhere, including India, Sri Lanka, South China, the Malay Archipelago, Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

The crocodile, killed in Bengal (India) about a hundred years ago, was 9.9 meters long. A copy of a length of 8.7 meters was killed at about the same time in the Philippines. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the largest of modern crocodiles has a length of 5 meters 78 centimeters. He lives in one of the Indian reserves. But this is a record figure, the majority of mature males reach a length of 4-5 meters and a weight of 400-700 kilograms. Old individuals can weigh one and a half times more.

Based on the book Extreme Cuisine.
Jerry Hopkins.

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