After all these years, I still enjoy certain foods that I enjoyed when just a youngster. Soup beans, cornbread and a thick-sliced bologna sandwich still find their way to my menu on a regular basis. But one thing I didn’t like then, and still don’t care for today, is frog legs.
Older boys in the neighborhood would rig up gigs, a large nail driven into the end of a broomstick and flattened by placing it on a T-rail and pounding it with a hammer. A few who enjoyed the sport more frequently even had those three-prong, store-bought ones, and spent all night frog gigging. Then, I’d hear tales about what a fine mess of frog legs their moms had fried up and how they tasted just like chicken -- only better. I’d just take their word for it because, to my knowledge, I never tasted one.
One reason may have been because I also heard that sometimes those legs would hop right out of the skillet. I read somewhere that heat from cooking would indeed cause fresh frog legs to twitch, so I guess that actually happened.
Anyway, what brought up frog legs in the first place occurred recently when Wilma Jean and I were sitting in a local restaurant. I was enjoying a big juicy burger when I saw one of the boys who worked in the kitchen dump a big pan of freshly-fried frog legs onto the food bar. That simple act nearly put his life in danger, because no sooner had the last leg rolled from the pan, than he was totally surrounded by a dozen or so diners, all reaching, grabbing and snatching frog legs. By the time he escaped the chaos and had made it back to the kitchen, what he had dumped had disappeared. Disappointed stragglers moseyed on back to their tables and sat impatiently watching the kitchen door, hoping they might be among those who’d score in the next round.
Remembering the old days, and just how long it’d take three or four young giggers to bag a dozen or so frogs, I couldn’t help wondering just how many frogs had to croak to feed the group the other night, and wondered where that many frogs had come from. Curiosity set in, and after a bit of research, I learned that the United States imports more than a million pounds of frog legs each year, mostly from Asia.
Something else I learned was that a little town in Florida, Fellsmere, that’s near Vero Beach, has a Frog Leg Festival every January. The town of about 4,000 (that’s even smaller than Paintsville) swells to about 80,000 over the four-day festival. Apparently people come from all over to dine on frog legs and gator tail.
Who knows? With all the success local restaurants are having with frog legs, we might soon be seeing “gator tail night” featured on the marquee. Wonder how that would go over? It might be fun to watch what happens when gator tail is dumped onto the food bar … while I’m still enjoying a big juicy burger.