Rattlesnakes and Scorpions

By Kary Vannice

I’m a pescetarian. Sounds pretentious, I know. I try to avoid using the word, actually. But it is an accurate description of my personal eating habits. It means I don’t eat land animals. Or as I used to put it… “No feathers, no feet, no fur.” That was until this last January when I was faced with the invitation to eat rattlesnake.

When I politely said, “No thank you, I don’t eat meat. Well, I don’t eat “land animals”, no feathers, no feet, no fur.” My kind host said, “Well, rattlesnakes don’t have any of those, so I guess you’re having some?” I quickly added, “No fangs”. Thank god that started with an “F”.

True to my word, I didn’t partake of the main course that evening, but, for those of you whose eating habits do include land animals and want to add “fangs” to your list, here’s a recipe I found online (www.cooks.com) for how to prepare rattlesnake.

ROASTED RATTLESNAKE

Catch and skin rattlesnake and cut into 2 inch pieces. Place pieces on a skewer and roast over glowing coals, keeping the skewer constantly turning. When the meat quits sizzling, it is done. For a different taste treat, roll the cooked meat in a flour tortilla with refried beans and eat it like a sandwich. Watch out for the bones.

That’s exactly as it was printed on the net! While most recipes start off with something as mundane as, “Remove chicken breast from freezer,” this one starts off with an honest-to-god adventure! Usually, the riskiest part of completing any recipe is a wayward paring knife or an accidental burn from a hot pan. The threat here is not just excruciating pain and possible death by snake venom, but potentially third-degree burns by glowing hot coals! Oh, and don’t forget the prospect of choking to death on a snake bone! Adventure abounds! To the brave of heart and strong of stomach, I say… “Go for it!” Just don’t forget the beans and tortillas. Why this savory Mexican-esque serpent delight is likened to a sandwich and not a taco, is beyond me.

But, if you fancy a taco instead of a “tortilla sandwich,” I’ve got a few for you … Deep-fried scorpion tacos! Or, how about roasted scorpions served with nopales in a handmade corn tortilla? Sound yummy? If so, you’re in luck. These are available in many markets in places like Mexico City and Durango. According to those who are brave enough to try them, they have a “very unique” and somewhat woody flavor. And I just thought they would taste like a trip to the hospital. Apparently, some savvy vendors have figured out the secret to removing the scorpions’ venom while the creatures are still alive, mind you, before they meet their death by boiling oil or on a scorching comal.

Of course, if neither one of these options has made your top choices for dinner tonight, you could always just opt to buy a bottle of mescal and think it over a bit longer. Just be sure to get a bottle that contains either a baby rattlesnake or a scorpion. Then, maybe you’ll never have to prove your gastronomic bravery and risk potential death. Just a thought.

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