Have you ever watched two people eat the same thing from the same plate of food only to end up with two completely different opinions about the dish? Or heard two people talk about the same exact topic only with two completely different points of view? Of course you have, right? Well, today is no different. *Smirk* Today, you’re going to hear from two Brown Girls – one named Tracey (hey, that’s me!); the other named Tracy (great name) – as each one tells you about her love affair and/or distaste for iguanas, a type of (endangered) lizard common to South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. And then after that, you can decide for yourself how you feel about eating iguana stew, iguana eggs or lizard soup...
First I sensed it. Then I felt it. Then I saw it. And then I screamed.
Some goober boy walked up behind me at day camp and in a stroke of genius placed a three foot iguana on the back of my neck. I lost it. *Shiver* Of course, the little bozo was trying to be funny. Hardy har har. He failed.
I must have been around 10 or 11. I was in Massachusetts visiting my grandmother for the summer. I was at day camp one day standing around talking to a bunch of kids and playing with a rabbit (or some other furry animal) and Mr.-Ha-Ha-Aren’t-I-Funny? got his Thrill of the Day…at my expense. I was already squeamish about reptiles and scaly things anyway. So having a mini dragon placed on the back of my neck took me over the edge. I haven’t been the same since.
About 10 years ago, I faced my ridiculous fear and took a day sail to Iguana Island in the Turks & Caicos Islands. There were iguanas eh-ver-ee-where. On the walkway, on the beach, in the bushes, on the tree trunks. *Shiver* But guess what? I swam from the boat to the shore, took some deep breaths and (while clinging to my fella) actually walked amongst reptiles. Good googly moogly; that was brave. Now when I see them, I don’t run. I’m inquisitive by nature, so I check them out while they check me out. *Wondering if they think I’m ugly too?* And then we go our separate ways. And I’m cool with that.
I think it was sometime around my 7th birthday that I remember my grandmother purchasing an iguana from a street vendor in Guyana. I was ecstatic because I just knew the iguana was my new pet. I played with him for three days and on the fourth day when I returned home from school, I couldn't find him. I walked along my street calling out to family, friends and neighbors thinking maybe my pet iguana crawled into their yard. Everyone assured me, they had not seen him. Then our maid came in from the marketplace and I ran up to her in a panic desperately hoping she knew the whereabouts of my new pet. This lady said, "I cooked it."Huh?
I could not wrap my 7-year-old mind around it. I was confused, scared, livid and I wanted answers. Then she continued, "Your grandmother asked me to make curry iguana for your birthday party." "What the…??!!!" I replied. (Of course [at 7 years old] I left out all profanities because I did not want to end up in the pot with my old friend.] From that day up until I turned 13 -- I kept all of my pets away from my grandmother.
This little story remained a secret when I returned [from Guyana to the United States] fearing that my childhood friends here would not accept me. Well, it was a secret until now.
[So you can imagine why] I belted out a hearty laugh when I came across [Uncommon Caribbean’s recipe for iguana stew]!
Just to bring this whole post home, I found a few things I want to share: First, a recipe for Nigerian lizard stew (with photos even!). Second and third, a video of Andrew Zimmerman sucking the insides out of iguana eggs (screaming!) in Nicaragua along with a video of Anthony Bourdain eating iguana for the second time (“The last time I had [iguana] I wanted to gargle with bleach and throw myself off the mountain,” he says). And last, an online article about the exploitation of iguanas in Central America. #whew
I guess this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about how iguana or lizard as a meal is unique to certain cultures or how I just got back from Barbados where there is an iguana sanctuary at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, but I’m not. I just can’t
talk about handle it. Shoot, you know if I don’t want to be around an iguana that I’m definitely not going to eat one. And as a pet? *Snort* I don’t think so.
Anyone out there ever had an iguana as a pet? How about iguana stew?!??!? Would you try it? If so, bon appétit! (Ewwww.)