My buddy Bobby is one of those rare individuals who live in casual accord with the world. He used to describe himself as a “naturist” until I pointed out that he is not a naturist because he does not shuck down and cavort in the Great Outdoors with his butt to the breeze, which he said is a damn silly thing to do in Mississippi any time of the year, since some kid with a BB gun is sure to take a bead on your nads.
Though he only had one biology course in his two years of college, Bobby is still keen on the subject and keeps up with the latest developments. Last week I ran into him in the dollar aisle at the local supermarket (where we both spend a lot of time), and he was excited about the new classification of birds. “They’re LIZARDS!” he said, shaking a jar of Louisiana Supreme pepper vinegar under my nose for emphasis. “Well, not lizards so much as dinosaurs! They’ve decided that all birds, even those that fly, and not just those that can’t are dinos. And guess what else?”
“No!” he said. “ALLIGATORS! So what it all boils down to is that an alligator really ain’t nothing more than one big, bad-ass bird!” I had to agree that alligators were definitely bad-ass, bird or not, but I took Bobby Lynn for his word, which was as usual reliable. It seems that birds and “crocodilians”, which includes crocodiles and one mean-looking lizard called a caiman as well as our beloved Alligator mississippiensis, the American alligator. Both alligators and birds developed from dinosaurs in the Jurassic period.
Once hunted to the point of extinction for their hides, the alligator is making a big comeback in the South. Just two years ago, the world’s biggest gator, which measured 15 feet and 9 inches long and weighed 1,011.5 pounds, was captured in August by five (!) members of the Stokes family in Mill Creek, Alabama. Of course alligators are edible, and over 35 years ago no less an authority than Howard Mitcham predicted that “the day will come when fillet of alligator will be served with pride in first-class gourmet restaurants, and frozen alligator meat will be available in the supermarket.”
Well, if not in your supermarket then certainly online, where you can find gator meat from a number of sources in our Great Sister State of Louisiana. Here’s Howard’s marinade recipe for barbecued alligator steak. Marinate steaks for at least four hours, turning the pieces occasionally. Grill on a low heat for about an hour or until tender.
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 1/3 cups salad oil
8 drops Tabasco
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
1 tbsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper