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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Here Come the Armadillos!


One of the weirder side-effects unforeseen by the climate change guys is the spread of armadillos into north Georgia.  They've been creeping up slowly from Florida for years, but recently I've sighted them in south Metro Atlanta.  Armadillos are shy creatures, and if you were an armadillo you'd be shy too.

Most of us who've seen one at all have only seen them as roadkill.  As far as most people know, the natural habitat of an armadillo is the middle of a blacktop road with a Uniroyal tire tread running down the middle of its back.  In reality, most armadillos live a full, active, fulfilling existence - burrowing, hunting for grubs and invertebrates.  Now it is also evident that also have rich and rewarding sex lives and like to travel.

Armadillos didn't originate from Florida; before 1924 the only armadillos in Florida were in a zoo.  In those days Floridians, thinking armadillos were interesting and exotic, wanted to see one for themselves.  Be careful what you wish for.

Joshua Nixon, a zoologist specializing in armadillos (my goodness, the careers people have!) conjectures that armadillos may even be traveling by train.  This is not entirely unheard-of; New York pigeons have long been known to commute by subway; nevertheless, it's hard to imagine an armadillo dashing alongside a moving boxcar and leaping on.  Parenthetically, Nixon lives in Michigan, which is about as far from where the armadillos are as you can get, which ought to tell you something.

Armadillos are harmless unless you're an insect or an invertebrate, or unless you're a plant growing on top of where an armadillo thinks there might be insects or invertebrates, or unless you have a yard. 

Fortunately, armadillos are edible.  I have appended an actual recipe below.  I don't know what armadillo tastes like, never having eaten it.  Normally, outre entrees are compared to chicken, but I could not find a single internet reference comparing armadillo to the taste of chicken.  This may be a warning.  Here's the recipe:


Armadillo Au Vin   


INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)

1/4 cup butter

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon rosemary

1 medium onion, sliced thin

1 armadillo, cleaned and cut into serving pieces

1 1/4 cup light cream

1 tablespoon brown mustard

1 tablespoon cornstarch

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all ingredients of marinade and add armadillo. Marinate about 8 hours, turning meat occasionally. Remove armadillo and reserve marinade. Melt butter in deep skillet and brown armadillo pieces. Pour in marinade and bring to a boil. Stir in seasoning, cover and simmer until tender (about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.) Remove skillet from the fire and place armadillo pieces on a warmed platter. Mix mustard and cornstarch, then mix in cream. Return skillet to low heat and stir in this mixture a little at a time. Stir sauce until hot, but not boiling, and thickened. Pour sauce over armadillo. Serve with steamed rice.


Sounds almost good enough to eat, doesn't it?    Unfortunately, The New England Journal of Medicine has linked eating armadillo meat to leprosy in humans.  But that's only if you eat it frequently, and, after all, how many nights a week are you going to eat Armadillo au Vin anyways?

(Originally posted 2012)

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