I’m sure you’re familiar the urban myth of the “sewer alligator” which dates back at least to the 1930s, and makes a famous literary appearance in Thomas Pynchon’s novel V .
Why not let Tom explain:
“Geronimo stopped singing and told Profane how it was. Did he remember the baby alligators? Last year, or maybe the year before, kids all over Nueva York bought these little alligators for pets. Macy's was selling them for fifty cents, every child, it seemed, had to have one. But soon the children grew bored with them. Some set them loose in the streets, but most flushed them down the toilets. And these had grown and reproduced, had fed off rats and sewage, so that now they moved big, blind, albino, all over the sewer system. Down there, God knew how many there were. Some had turned cannibal because in their neighborhood the rats had all been eaten, or had fled in terror.”
I suppose that meant these critters were “free range” possibly even “organic,” though in the wild, carnivores though they certainly are, they eat quite a lot of fruit, which wouldn’t be so plentiful down there in the sewers and would surely have affected the taste.
Recently my good friends Anthony and Elina presented me with some alligator meat – we should all have such friends. As you see from the package it made no claims to be organic or free range, though it did say “certified Cajun,” which in this context seems to mean that it came from Louisiana. The package also has a label saying “tenderloin” which has been stuck over the word “filet” on the original plastic. I don’t know what that means, but I’d have been happy with fatste either, since it would mean that it was boneless pieces of meat, like this:
Researching recipes, it seems that a lot of them involve doing things that disguise the taste of the alligator: sauce piquant or Étouffée, and Paula Deen recommends dunking it in store bought ranch dressing. But what’s the point of all that? I want my alligator to taste of alligator.
I went with the pretty much the standard Psychogourmet marinade – oil, garlic, lemon, paprika, salt, pepper, little splash brandy – that kind of thing (adjust to taste, as I believe they say).
Then a bit of dredging in flour,
then some pan frying,
and an end result that looked like this on the plate:
How did they taste? Well, one of my resources sources said the flavor was somewhere between chicken and frogs’ legs, which seems about right - I'd say there's also a bit of rabbit in there too. The marinade really hadn’t penetrated very far into the meat, though it was there on the surface. But the texture really wasn’t like chicken at all. It wasn’t tough, and yet it was chewy and just a little rubbery, but in a GOOD way.
Other serving suggestions? I did find the above on Instagram – a bit of a Naked Lunch moment, I’d have said.