On the food watch: iguanas

It starts in Miami, with this photo that Kyle Wohlmut took there last weekend and posted on Facebook:

(#1) Floridian street iguana on the prowl

Green iguanas are an invasive pest in Puerto Rico and south Florida; the obvious solution is that they be cooked and eaten, the way they are in Mexico (and elsewhere in Central America). So it was natural for a Facebook reader to ask what sauce you use on an iguana.

Well, clearly, Lizard Lick barbecue sauce.

Background on iguanas, from Wikipedia:

Iguana is a genus of herbivorous lizards that are native to tropical areas of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The genus was first described in 1768 by Austrian naturalist Josephus Nicolaus Laurenti in his book Specimen Medicum, Exhibens Synopsin Reptilium Emendatam cum Experimentis circa Venena. Two species are included in the genus Iguana: the green iguana, which is widespread throughout its range and a popular pet, and the Lesser Antillean [or black] iguana, which is native to the Lesser Antilles and endangered due to habitat destruction.

The word “iguana” is derived from the original Taino name for the species, iwana.


On culinary iguanas, from Wikipedia:

Iguana meat has historically been important in the culinary traditions of Mexico and Central America; particularly in the states of Jalisco, Michoacán and Colima. In Fray Sahagún’s history of colonial Mexico, he mentions the iguana as a traditional food throughout Western Mexico and describes it as good to eat when properly prepared. Iguana meat is legal in the United States of America and several other countries

… There has been a marked preference for the green iguana (Iguana iguana) over the black iguana (Ctenosaura pectinata) in the region, though both are eaten. The native Mexican green iguana is becoming scarce because of habitat loss.

Proper preparation of the iguana requires parboiling it in saltwater for twenty to thirty minutes before roasting or stewing it. Common recipes for the iguana include stews (guisado), pozole, birria, roasted in tacos and flautas, roasted and finished with mole, and even sauteed with almonds. Two recipes for traditional preparation can be found at the Wikibooks Cookbook project.

Meanwhile, the iguana has become (yet another) symbol of Mexico, available for naming Mexican restaurants. There are at least three Iguanas / Iguana’s Mexican restaurants not far from me (one in Santa Clara, two in San Jose). And in NYC, there’s Iguana New York (240 W. 54th St.), offering Mexican food and a dance lounge, with this logo:

(#4) Dance With Me, Iguana / Iguana Hold Your Hand

And then there’s Iguanas Seafood Restaurant on St. Simon’s Island GA (303 Mallery St.):


I suppose the iguana name is just supposed to suggest the Caribbean: the restaurant is not Mexican — it specializes in shrimp in many forms and also offers oysters, calamari, fried mushrooms, crabcakes, mussels, cheese bread, wings, cheese sticks, onion bread — and doesn’t offer iguana meat (or alligator or turtle, for that matter).

But if you do grill, roast, or stew some iguana, you’ll want a sauce to spice it up. Lizard Lick Sauce to the rescue:

(#6) Well, yes, it is sexually suggestive: lick my lizard, baby!

Available flavors: Amy’s Meat Marinade, Hickory Thick N’ Sweet, Pop’s Eastern North Carolina, Repo Ron’s Sweet.

One Response to “On the food watch: iguanas”

  1. Moxie Supper Says:

    Reblogged this on moxie supper and commented:

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