It has long been assumed in our family that Cajuns will eat just about anything. This opinion may arise from stories my Thibodeaux cousin told about hunting, trapping and fishing on the bayou as a boy.
Or it may originate with an anecdote about one of my uncles’ colleagues – another biology professor in Louisiana – who would eat all manner of roadkill, if it was fresh enough.
Protein is protein, and whether or not we’ll put a particular form in our mouths probably depends a lot on culture and early conditioning. In some places, chili- and chocolate-dusted grasshoppers are considered a tasty snack (they’re not bad, but the little legs kept getting caught between my teeth). Other places, grubs – toasted or fresh – are frequently on the menu.
Rattlesnake tastes a lot like chicken, and I’m told iguana is pretty similar.
Our engineer was telling me about long-ago trips to the “camp” in the swamp with the old man who helped raise him. He looked forward, he said, to the “pot” hunt at the end of the day: a rabbit, a marsh hen, and a grobec – all thrown into the same pot and simmered.
“What’s a grobec?” I asked.
“It’s a big gray bird, kind of has a funny shape in its neck when it flies,” he said.
Me: “Makes a sound like this? (and here I do my best raspy heron croack).
“Yeah, that’s it,” he said.
“Seriously? You guys eat herons?”
“Yeah man, that’s some good sh*t. Illegal as hell to shoot, of course, but they’re good!”
*A grobec, a quick web search tells me, is a “gros bec,” or “fat beak,” and typically refers to a yellow-crowned night heron.