Eat the Enemy

By R. D. Flavin


     As of today, more than 50 Burmese pythons have been turned over to the University of Florida as part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's 2013 Python Challenge.  It's not just licensed hunters this time out, as the general public are also invited to participate (as long as they pay the a $25 fee and watch a short video).  I'm all for scientific study and helping the native Everglade wildlife (there was one report of a 76 lb. deer inside a captured python), but there's already several python recipes posted online.   Yup, eat the enemy!  As they say: “It tastes like chicken!”  And, if trades-folk can do something with python skin, have at it!

     I'd associate it with alligators... Sure, they're cool to look at with their eyes barely poking out of the water, yet they're most deadly when they encounter the stray (read: not that bright) human.  'Gator wrestling aside, everything comes down to cash and a license to hunt alligators in Florida costs $1000 and one can only “bag” two.  Some companies offer guided tours for 'gators, but 1) they're expensive, and 2) sometimes they ship you a different 'gator than the one you shot.  However, there's a thriving market for alligator skin products (shoes and hand-bags), and there are plenty of Cajun 'Gator Stew recipes out there. Now, 'gators do provide some eco-service, as in they feed on some pesky river rats, but still follows that if you can't have sex with it, then eat it, and perhaps make a nice pair of boots out of the skin. Ouch; that was way too creepy even for me...

     Okay, the theme of this column is about so-called invasive species (var. exotics), and whatever else I can toss in...   My all-time favorite example are the Red King crabs (Paralithodes camtschaticus) which the Soviets transferred in the 1960s from their native habit in the Bering Sea (Asia meets Alaska) to the Barents Sea near Norway.  These crabs are the absolute finest of such decapod crustaceans with size and succulence unrivaled. Unfortunately, matters got out of control... The Red King crabs began to migrate along the coast, leaving Soviet Russian territory and entering Norwegian waters. Oh, and here's the rough rub, the crabs eat everything in their way, destroying all soft-bottom fauna (i.e. ruining all plant life on the seafloor and leaving no food for fish and other marine life – kind of like a “scorched sea-bed” scenario). And, as could only happen in a TWIGHT ZONE world, Norway is unable to solve the situation (that is, capture and eat these large and tasty crabs), because they signed a treaty with Russia committing to only a minimal harvest. It's estimated the Red King crabs will continue down the coast of Europe (some say a little over 31 miles per year, though it could occur quicker), and might end with Gibraltar and warmer waters. Eat the enemy, with a bib and lots of clarified butter.

     An aside: In, oh ...August-September 1983, I attended a lecture by the late Prof Richard Evans Schultes (Harvard, Director of the Harvard Botanical Museum [1967-1985]) at an office space above a corner of Harvard Square which may or may not go by the the name of Crimson Corner (Google-alleged: The Atrium Shopping Center), on the second floor, in which he proposed that much of mankind's food problems could be resolved if we could only figure out a way to separate protein from plant cellulose. So much potential food in every autumn lawn raking and with no science to help us. Soylent Dawn – it's not people, it's lawn leafs!

     Introducing bunnies in Australia for hunting purposes didn't end well.  Sure, there's several Hooters Restaurants Downunder, but it's not the same thing.   One are pesky varmints and the other are places with cute chicks...

     Here, in New England, we're confronted with some nasty red seaweed (Heterosiphonia japonica), which not only smells really bad, but seems do be ...taking over ocean-front property, beaches, and wrecking havoc with local marine-life.  Some North and South Shore communities have reported bulldozing tons a day, only to find more the next. Okay, it's a Japanese invasive species, it's foul and hurting our local sea-scape...  I know I prefaced the above with “Eat the Enemy,” however, how about we harvest, process it, and turn some into crop fertilizer and the rest into ...toilet paper.  Right, I'll let you sit on that one for a while...

      Invasive species abound – my hometown of Chicago is now threatened by the Asian Carp.  Among other flora and fauna.  Ah, skinny logic: catch 'em, eat them or sell them to a foreign market, then turn them over for dog-food or fertilizer.  But, by all means, don't waste the catch.  Eat (or sell) the enemy.

     Now, there's lots of invasive species that have no easy solution to and this column is both a wake-up call to the problem and a series of bad jokes.  We understand one another, right?

     Recently, there's been significant threats from Iran and North Korea.  If I supported cannibalism (outside of an Andes air crash), perhaps.  However, I don't support eating our own.  Period.  If, however, the extreme radical elements of Iran and North Korea continue on their path of self-destruction – dog food would not be inappropriate.

     Hey, I won't eat my enemies, but … I'll feed them to the dogs.  May the Humanist Collected Unconsciousness forgive me.  With gravy...


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