(written May 26th, 2017)
This week, now that fruits, vegetables and eggs from the city have either been eaten or spoiled, my diet has consisted primarily of granola, rice, peanuts/peanut butter, and popcorn. Good thing I truly love all these foods. To spice it up however, I was given meat three time by Neno friends – fish, paca, and get this – alligator meat!
Woohoo! Major score for someone who loves adding unusual foods to her menu. Did I like it? Silly question. Obviously! I make up my mind to like things before they ever enter my mouth, (which is the exact opposite of certain three-year-olds I have known) which makes a big difference. Besides, how can you go wrong with deep-fried meat? Delicious! Actually, to be perfectly honest, that day I was so congested with a severe cold that I couldn’t taste the alligator meat much at all. It was probably the crunchy texture which was most enjoyable. The meat itself was white, looked exactly like the meat of some of the fish in our river, whose names I cannot remember in any language, because there are so many it is easy to mix them up. It wasn’t tender and flaky like many fish are, but firm, bodied, yet without being tough or hard to chew.
Due to the cold, I cannot offer a proper Food-Network style commentary. I did notice the smell in my pot afterwards seemed pretty strong, so perhaps the taste would be as well. It seemed like a fairly fatty meat also.
P.S. (written July 15, 2017) A few weeks after the above experience, I was given alligator meat again. Having long since recovered from the cold, I was able to truly enjoy this exotic cuisine. This time, the meat still had the hide attached, which made prep a bit intimidating, but the hide was surprisingly easy to remove with the proper technique. I deep-fried it again, and shared it with three other people (city Brasilians, not Neno). They all raved about it and asked how I cooked it so perfectly. So apparently, somehow, I am a natural at cooking alligator meat. Who would have thought? That should look good on a resumé someday.
In reality, it’s hard to go wrong with anything deep-fried…not much talent necessary to cut something into chunks, season it with salt, and leave it in hot oil until it develops a crispy crust. And no, alligator meat, does not taste like chicken, if you were wondering. It could easily pass for fish, however, with the added bonus of not having pinbones.