Ready for python pizza?
Alligator and frog have long been on the menu in Florida, but a new
delicacy has slithered its way onto dinner plates in the US state.
A pizzeria now offers Burmese python meat on what it calls the
"Everglades Pizza" -- named for Florida's vast national park, where the
snakes are being hunted to protect the nature preserve.
"It was just to create talk about the shop and being creative and
this thing literally just went viral," says Evan Daniell, the owner of
Evan's Neighborhood Pizza in the Gulf Coast city of Fort Myers.
"People talk about it all the time and whether it's negative or
positive, it really doesn't matter because the fact is: we can make it
and it's delicious." So, the big question: what does it taste like?
"It's good but a little chewy," says Mike, a tourist taking the python
plunge from Minnesota.
"It tastes like chicken but chewier," his wife Becky adds.
Daniell admits that python meat "can be gamier." The chef tenderizes
the slabs of snake meat by marinating them for several hours. They are
then sliced thinly into what he calls "snake slivers".
Before laying it onto the pizza, making sure "each slice has a piece
of python," Daniell pre-cooks the snake in the oven for a few minutes.
"There is some pink into the snake, and as it turns white, it will be
done," he explains. Despite its steep price tag of $45, the "Everglades"
pizza certainly has its fans.
Daniell's pal Mike Gookin says he came up with the idea of using the
snake meat to spice up pizzas after seeing a news report on the python
problem in the Everglades.
The pizza also features alligator sausage and frog legs. Both are
native to southern Florida.
The pythons are definitely not, but they are everywhere.
"There could be thousands or tens of thousands of Burmese pythons in
the wild here," explains Roberto Torres, a field officer with The Nature
Conservancy. The snakes can measure up to 20 feet (six meters) long and
they are believed to have made the Everglades their home after being
released by their owners.
"They get them as pets and when they get too big, they release them
here," Torres says, his feet deep in the mud of the wetlands near the
suburbs of Miami where pythons have been spotted regularly.
Burmese pythons have no known predator in Florida, so they sit atop
the food chain in their new home. As a result, environmental experts
like Torres fear their presence could end up threatening biodiversity in
"It's a perfect habitat for the snake -- it's wet, there is plenty of
food. (...) They'll eat anything they can catch -- birds, fish, mammals,
cats, dogs," Torres says.