Grenouilles and Other Dishes

No matter what I set out to learn, everything is centered around books of one kind or another. They may be filled with cello music or foreign language or pictures of people signing ASL or delicious recipes. My personal library, which is slowly spreading to every room of our house, has Beauty and the Beast sized aspirations. Sure there are plenty of resources online, but for me, there is no more comforting teacher (or more effective self-soother) than the bound pages of ink covered paper in a book.


Unfortunately, my book addiction can sometimes overwhelm my goals, as the acquisition of resources distracts me from the practical work of learning. Sometimes a certain find can inspire me to action, other times a particularly bracing volume can rattle me back to reality, and in this particular case, the kitchen.

During Spring Break this week, I’ve been treasure hunting at various Half Priced Book locations around town. Have I cooked a single meal? No. No, I have not. But I got my comeuppance when I walked into a rarely visited store and sat down to peruse the cooking shelf. A glossy, textbook-like tome caught my eye. When I pulled it from the shelf I saw a bowl of pasta beneath the title The Herpetologist’s Cookbook. It didn’t quite register at first, and then I looked closer. There was a FROG sitting in that pasta bowl.


Sure, I thought, SURELY this is just a misguided play on… something. Something not at all amusing to people who are not herpetologists. I flipped the book over in my lap to read the back and clear things up. They were SPLITTING a lizard. A LIZARD.


Remember that time my cookbook wanted me to pop a pigeon? How desperate I was in that moment to go back to those beautiful, by-gone days of culinary innocence and simple disgust. Whatever horrific part of the human brain compels one to look upon the source of revulsion was very much at work as I flipped through the pages with my mouth open.

First came the salamanders. That’s the icky gicky lizard, y’all. In case you were under any illusions that it was some freakishly odd choice of moniker for an obscure English pastry.


Then like some nightmarish witches’ grimoire came the frog AND TOAD recipes. I mean, I’ve at least HEARD of frogs’ legs. But a TOAD? I live in Texas, y’all. Those enormous blobs of brown and warty flesh have to be avoided like the plague on the sidewalks when nights get warm. And should your teacher’s heart feel bound to pick one up and give a brief zoology lesson to your kiddos, they pee on you. Riiiiight down your arm. This is the main thing I think of when I consider a toad: urine. Mmmm. Yummy.


Apparently things were ordered by size, because the final chapter began with a detailed butchering chart of the meat cuts on an alligator.


Color me shocked that this book ended up on the shelf of a dilapidated used book store, though I shudder to think it may have gotten any use before that point.

That’s it for me though. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m taking a break from the bookstores and getting my tail back in the kitchen. Where I plan on cooking up something delicious…

And DEFINITELY vegetarian.


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