Fancy a crocodile steak? Or would you prefer grilled rattlesnake?...

Multi-allergic Nicki Greenham has been trying out some exciting new meats... For more on multiple allergies, both chemical and food, checkout Nicki’s site

Food intolerance is not going too well, so I’m on the look out for new foods. There has to be more to life than beef, wheat and dairy.

A few weeks ago I spotted a new restaurant in town ‘Bom-Bora Home of Australian Cuisine’. Hmm, Australian food – worth a look. And there it was, staring back at me from the menu on the wall: Crocodile steaks. Is it a fish, is it a meat? I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t seem to be a member of any food family I was currently eating. Worth a try? I went inside to see if they’d sell me a couple of fillets.

‘And how do you recommend cooking it?’ Ah, the flaw in the plan. Garlic (no), tomatoes (not likely), onions (not unless I want extreme stomach pain for dessert).

So back to the good old poaching or lightly frying method then: crocodile à la nude. Possibly not quite as tasty as the restaurant’s recipe … time would tell. 6.30pm in fact.

I stared down at the chunky white fillet. It looked alright, but the smell! The taste wasn’t too bad, I think I’d say a meaty kind of fish, but the smell…well really I could see why garlic would be a welcome addition – a pinch of salt was not really an effective substitute. Put that one down to experience, and the second fillet straight into the freezer - for emergencies.

Back to the new food search, and this time I tried the internet. Twenty minutes wondering whether ‘Jerky’ was a new breed of farm animal before discovering it’s a term for dried meat…and then I hit the jackpot – a Bristol company selling unusual meat – perfect. Now the theory of trying new foods is all very well when you’re really hungry and allergic to everything in Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, but just how far was I willing to go?

‘Locusts – an excellent source of protein, a delicate appetiser dipped in chocolate.’ Whole locusts? I’ve never been good with eyes, or eating creatures whole. I once tried mussels – fresh and cooked straight off the boat. They actually were quite nice – quite meaty and not at all slimy, but I made the mistake of only eating half and then taking a look. intestines or eyes - that’s where I draw the line. I’ve never eaten whitebait for the same reason – little eyes peeking out from the batter. Yuck!

So, back to the list and looking out from the screen was something I’d definitely not tried before: rattlesnake. Rattlesnake! It was certainly in the unusual food category and in the ‘not tried it before so probably not allergic to it’ category too. No intestines or eyes, I imagined some sort of thick steak like the crocodile. I mean rattlesnakes are pretty big, aren’t they? I hit the ‘Buy Now’ button. Delivery Thursday.

Now some people may think it odd that while I refuse to eat ordinary fish shop whitebait I’d quite happily order rattlesnake. But a steak is a steak, isn’t it? All with slightly different flavours, but essentially all looking like pieces of meat.

With this confident assumption nothing prepared me for the shock of opening the parcel of rattlesnake. No steak. No diced chunks of anonymous meat. Imagine the shock. There it was – a fully coiled snake in shrink-wrapped plastic. No head or tail, but there was no getting away from it, it was a small, fully formed snake. I half expected it to slither out of the packaging. In fact I would have welcomed it slithering out of the packaging and out of the door - anything so I didn’t have to contemplate how to cook it.

But there it was, sitting there, needing to be cooked, and the options were a little limited. Poached or casseroled in a little water, no garlic or onions. Well, at least it was the right shape to fit into the casserole pot!

I’ve never really considered the anatomy of a snake, it was never a topic covered in biology and Delia and Mrs Beeton had nothing to say about it either. I think one word would sum it up quite well: ribs. Ribs! Hundreds of them! How on earth were you supposed to eat this thing? The meat on the back – no problem, but were people really expected to pick through the rest of it, I mean spare ribs – there were a couple of hundred!

The taste was not too bad and the smell definitely preferable to crocodile, but it was a big-trouser-Simon-Cowell ‘no’ for appearance! Talk about biting off more than you can chew… There must be something at Morrisons or Sainsbury’s that I missed. Back to mainstream shopping for a while!



More articles on food intolerance

First published in 2009

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