IGUANA À ROTISSERIE

S
itting with a chief in the back swamps of Central America I was served some delicious white meat on a broad leaf. Suddenly I was struck by the fact I had seen no chickens in that area. Alert, I asked politely what it was.

“Lizard’s tail” I was told.

When I had very politely finished dinner, the chief was so pleased at my obvious enjoyment (an explorer has to be a consummate actor at times), that he showed me how it was prepared.

The iguana comes in various sizes; they are shot with arrows despite their swiftness.

Only the tail is used. It is up to a third the reptile’s length. This tail is cut off close to the body. A stick is forced into it to keep it straight and it is toasted, while being rotated over hot coals. The tail is then skinned and laid on any broad green leaf. The meat, aside from a slight greenish cast, is not really detectable from the breast of chicken.

I am told that there are various different ways of catching and cooking iguanas that vary from area to area. However, the point I wish to make is that when eating with polite formal native chiefs it is wisest not to ask, halfway through the meal, what one is eating.

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