Even when I’m in Connecticut, the newspaper I check online (after the New York Times) is Mérida’s leading broadsheet. Its content is usually pretty predictable, but today I got a jolt.
The Gastronomía section featured a recipe for Guiso de Iguana. Guiso is stew. You know what Iguana is. Yes, those adorable little dragons that do nothing more than eat flowers, and yet keep getting the short end of the stick in the Centro. These cute little lizards can’t catch a break, between hungry albañiles and ruthless cats and dogs. And now this latest indignity.
On balance, eating iguana is probably the moral equivalent to eating squirrel, which is probably still not uncommon in those rural regions of the United States where road kill is considered good eatin’.
Maybe people who aren’t too familiar with squirrels think they’re cute, too, the way I think iguanas are cute. And maybe iguanas are considered pests in the Yucatán the way squirrels are up here in the States. So by this time next year, I may be happy to chase one around the yard with a cleaver.
So here’s the recipe, courtesy Diario de Yucatán:
1 iguana 2 ½ kg.
1 onion cut in half
1 onion cut into thin slices
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
6 whole jalapeno peppers
50 grs. achiote
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of oregano
2 sprigs of thyme
½ cup corn oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice open the iguana’s belly, remove the guts, skin and tiny fingernails. Wash it very well, inside and out. Cut into pieces and put it to cook with half-onion and herbs.
After about 1 ½ hours, the meat should be tender. Wring and reserve it. In a skillet sauté sliced onion, tomato, chilies and achiote. Dissolve the latter in a bit of iguana broth. After a few minutes, add the pieces of iguana and cook for 5 more minutes.