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Oct 14, 2010 11:15 PM

Eating free-range, corn-fed leg of armadillo - One of the tastiest things I've tried in my life

1. Armadillos have tiny legs

2. I didn't know what I was eating

3. I was guessing it was some sort of deep-fried goose or turkey

4. It was fabulous

It was crispy on the outside with succulent, rich meat. My first thought was turkey, but the bone was too small and this was richer tasting. Think of the best turkey or goose you've ever had ... but much, much better.

Through some misunderstanding, I thought they said something that sounded like goose, but couldn't find it on the internet, so my stepdaugher searched and found a photo of an armadillo so I was clear on what I just ate.

From my understanding they hang out in the Guatemalan milpa fields which are mainly corn. More about milpa fields here

I'm not sure if it actually eats the corn. Must armadillo species eat grubs, worms and ants. An armadillo can eat 40,000 ants in one meal. However some species of armadillo eat plants ad fruit as well.

There was something about armadillo being good for your health ... except for the leprocy. thing. .However, I'll have to get details tommorrow. Digesting the fact I just ate armadilllo was enough for one night.

Here's a great video ... seriously great ... and in English ... about a reporter in Columbia at an armadillo BBQ, so to speak.

What cracks me up is that is pretty similar to my nabe in Guatemala. The nice touch is the cook seems to have a fast-food type of uniform .... spiffy white cap and red apron. Then there's the guy standing there with his pet armadillo ... truly funny.

The reporter said that his tasted like steak. The reports on the web say pork, beef or chicken (nope, not chicken).

I can see why some people would say pork. The smell of it cooking was the smell of lard ... and my family NEVER uses lard.

So, I was wondering what was up. When I got the armadillo leg I figured for some reason they decided to fry some sort of poultry in lard and it was greasy, glorious goodness.

Greasy like bacon is greasy ... good greasy. It had sort of a carnitas texture about it. I was ithinking that maybe this was some sort of goose carnitas and that was why they used what smelled like lard.

I can't seem to break anyone of just buying what they like and not always thinking of cost. Really, I'll spend the extra 12 cents for the tortillas, don't wander all over town looking for a better price. Anyway, it seems there was also armadillo meat available but the price was deemed prohibitive ... about $20 lb. The legs were only $3.50 lb.

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  1. Are you sure about the 'corn fed' part? Most armadillos eat insects and grubs. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulj

      Could be. I'm not sure what species it is. Somes such as the six banded armadillo eats manily plants according to this great armadillo site

      Most of the plant-eating dillos are in South America. So not sure if this is the nine banded species commont to the Southern US and Mexico.

      I love some of the species names listed in this wiki article

      - Screaming Hairy Armadillo
      - Pink Fairy Armadillo
      - Beautiful Armadillo

      Another great armadillo link is this one

      How high can a nine-banded armadillo jump?

      The answer is three or four feet in the air to scare predators. That would scare me since I never even knew armadillas could leap.

    2. hmmmmm.... Where are you? Why are you there? Doesn't sound much like the Bay Area to me! Are you co-hosting with Andrew Zimmern??? Curious minds and all that jazz.... '-)

      Oh, and just for the record, I have the occasional armadillo in my back yard, but I wouldn't dream of roasting the poor things. Are you teilling me I should? Think about it or take action?

      And are you "having us on?" If I roasted one of my armadillos, I would have to eat the leg with tweezers! Like roast leg of baby mouse!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1

        rworange has been in Guatemala for the past several months.

        1. re: Caroline1

          I once had rabbit at the French Laundry that I thought was mouse. The ribs were the size of matchsticks. I kept thinking I must be eating unborn bunny.

          I'm living for a year in Escuintla, Guatemala until my husband and stepchildren get some papers from the American embassy. As you know, the US economy is not doing well which meant staff cutbacks at the embassy. Paperwork that took 3-6 months is now taking 9-12.

          These are my major links about Guatemala for the first half of this year which link to ... well, lots of reports.

          Guatemalan Cuisine - 2nd quarter report

          Guatemala: Restaurants, street food and more

          Guatemala: Antigua restaurants, street food and more

          Guatemala: Escuintla restaurants, street food and more

          Guatemala City restaurants, street food and more

          Guatemala: Local chain restaurants

          My Flickr photo sets on Guatemala which include mainly food, but non food things like the the cool Independence Day parade in my city of Milagro, Escuintla (department), Guatemala

          I'm starting the third quarter now ... with armadillo. There are stranger things to eat such as sompopos of Mayo and the royal rodent.

          This is the quarter of the Day of the Dead, La Nochebuena and La Nochevieja. It should be fun.

          My latest photo of a street vendor I saw yesterday is below. Also, a home in the area. That's the kitchen on the right and the dining area (complete with required dog) on the left. You might get an idea of why anything edible would be part of the cuisine (except dog. People love their puppies). It turns out that armadillo is pretty darn delicious.

          Actually the poorest of the poor wouldn't eat armadillo or iguana. It is too costly. They usually catch them and sell them to people willing to pay good money for these delicacies.

          It is a land of extremes. Some people are eating insects and varmits while others are dining at dog cafes where you can buy birthday cakes, beer, wine and whisky for your pooch

          I didn't get a photo of the armadillo because I didn't know what it was until after dinner. Next time I will.

          Nope, not telling you to eat your backyard armadillo anymore than I would tell you to eat the bunnies in your garden. Actually, I've read that an armadillo without its shell looks like a rabbit.

          A lot of people haven't tried armadillo and there are no really good reports on how it tasts on the web. So I thought I'd post what it tasted like to me.

          It is for the people who will never try armadillo ... spectator eaters ... I guess sort of like Andrew Zimmern fans.

          1. re: rworange

            Thanks! Somehow I hadn't realized it was more than a short vacation... duh.... You guys picked a VERY smart time to be out of the country! '-)

        2. Does cooking kill whatever causes leprosy?

          3 Replies
          1. re: electricfish

            Yes. Armadillo carpaccio is something I'd avoid.

            Dilloscape has an encellent link about armedillos and leoprocy.

            "Do armadillos have leprosy?
            Armadillos CAN have leprosy, but that does not mean that they all do.
            In Texas, about 4% to 10% of armadillos seem to have it.
            In Louisiana, up to 53% have been found to be infected.
            In Florida, 3 thousand armadillos were examined over 12 years. None were found to be infected, but the method of examination used was not very accurat"

            "How many people have gotten leprosy from armadillos?
            Not very many. In the USA, leprosy is rare in Humans. People who have gotten it from armadillos are suspected to have eaten under-cooked armadillo meat, or handled armadillos frequently."

            There's lot's more info

            The armadillo I had was fried a long time and I have to believe thouroughly cooked. I'll find out in three years if there is a problem. That's how long it takes for leoprocy to show up after being infected.

            1. re: rworange

              I've never been quite curious enough to research the question, but I have long wondered just how many armadillos in Louisiana would have leprosy if they had not been used in leprosy research programs in that state in the first half (and more) of the 20th century. Poor babies! The armadillos that visit me are VERY playful. My son and a couple of his friends stood in my garage for over an hour watching two armadillos "bowl" with each one taking a turn as the bowling ball. Dummies! Never occurred to any one of them to take a video! We coulda got rich on America's Funniest Home Videos, then had an armadillo barbecue to celebrate! <----See, Mods? I *AM* talking about food! '-)

              1. re: Caroline1

                Caroline1, I hope that your lawn stays intact. One show on the NatGeo Channel showed trappers capturing armadillos to prevent them from burrowing in a cemetery :-\.

                Based on reports about the diet of our exploding feral hog population, I'm not sure I would eat many wild omnivores any more. Human trash = trouble.

          2. I have a pretty vivid recollection of Bourdain being somewhere down south and watching a kid catch an armadillo. Which was shaking in his arms once he caught it. Not sure I could've eaten that.

            But if someone threw it on the plate and I didn't know what it was or where it came from? I would definitely try it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: linguafood

              "if someone threw it on the plate and I didn't know what it was or where it came from? I would definitely try it."

              That does not really sound like you want to try it. It is more like if I don't know what it is, then I may accidentially eat it.

            2. I watched Bourdain's hosts run down and roast an armadillo in the countryside north of Montevideo in Uruguay, with a friend from Uruguay. He laughed and said nobody in Uruguay does that.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                Nobody in Urguary does what? Nobody run down an armadillo or nobody roast an armadillo.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Neither. In my area, they get run down by motor vehicles at night and the vultures pick them clean by the following noon. A bit of a nuisance during my morning bike rides.

                2. re: Veggo


                  Sorry for starting with a digression, but that is what it was called last night and what I was searching on ... well, not exactly that word given how those letters are pronouced in Spanish. I could never get the conversation back to that word once everyone glommed on 'armadillo'.

                  I did ask today why it was healthy ... el armadillo ... es bueno para tu salud ... ¿Por qué?

                  Well, that stopped everyone dead. They just knew it was good for your health. So I suggested ... sin grasso? Low fat. That got some agreement and something that was beyond my current comprehension skills

                  ANYWAY, back to your post where I found the word peba when searching on Uruguay and Argentina. Here's a reference on Chowhound about people in Uruguay eating armadillo every February (Lenten thing?)

                  I didn't see the episode, but I'm sure people living in condos in Guatemala City would say no one eats armadillo here, just as someone from NY would say nobody really eats possum.

                  In that search I found an interesting passage from the Oxford Companion to food that says armedillos are fine to eat if you remove the seven glands from its back and legs. In Brazil they are eaten with lots of parsely. There's also a rec for armadillo sausage with coriander seed, basil, bay leaves garlic and nutmeg. You know, I'll bet armadillo meat makes a great sausage.

                  It goes on to say it tastes "rich and porky, more like possum" Well, there you go. Now I know what possum may taste like.

                  However, that seems to be Brazilian armadillo, as they mention there are three species in Brazil and only one the "sweet white-fleshed tatu marin ... is fit for the table"

                  Ya learn something new every day.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I think the Chinese also think armadillo is good for you.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Any idea why?

                      Calories and other nutriotional information for armadillo. It is rather low calorie at 47 per ounce

                      It also has info for other types of wild game and critters such as bear, beaver, ground hog, etc

                      Found this satirical article about Georgia politicians ... you are what you eat ... it is the annual Wild Hog Supper.

                      There's a reference to a cookbook that pokes fun at the food obcessed called "Critter Cuisine" which has a photo of the Dilly Dip on the cover. Don't look if you like cute armadillos. BTW, Critter Cuisine is a real book that can be ordered on Amazon.

                      "Dilly Dip: several armadillos, lying face up on platters ringed with colorful fruits and abundant tortilla chips. According to the directions, "With a melon baller or a grapefruit spoon, scoop out the interior of a small- to medium-sized armadillo. Make your favorite cactus dip, being sure to use as many jalapenos as you dare. Mound this mixture into the prepared armadillo. The meat can be reserved for the Dilly Quesadillas"

                      1. re: rworange

                        I don't know (the reason), but I will see if I can find it.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Maybe it is because they look similar to pangolin and the scales or armour is used in a similar way?

                          1. re: rworange

                            You are right and I was wrong. I should have said the Chinese eat Pangolin. Sorry. My bad. Chinese use the scales, but I think they also eat the meat too. That being said, Chinese probably also eat armadillo too :)

                    2. re: rworange

                      A correction, it isn't called peba, armadillo is called cuso in Guatemala. Yeah, I know one doesn't even sound like the other, but I thought it started with "p"

                      In Mexico it is called cusuco according to my source. Doing some Googling, this mission site which has some items that are called differrent names in various Latin American countries, had this list

                      PANAMA tururo, armadillo, armado
                      COSTA RICA armadillo, cusuco, armado, pitero
                      NICARAGUA pitero, concha en su lomo, armado, cusuco
                      HONDURAS magungo, cusuco, pitero, armadillo
                      GUATEMALA cuso, armado
                      EL SAVADOR armado, armadillo, cusuco, pitero, Jesús
                      MEXICO foche, armadillo

                      Hmmm ... Jesus? Well, it did taste divine.