I tried as hard as I could not to think of the fried pieces of meat as once belonging to frogs. There they sat, on a silver platter, six or seven individual legs, fried and crispy brown, just like chicken wings. Except they weren’t wings at all, nor chicken, and it took all the courage I could muster to pick up one of them (with my fork? with my fingers? should I stab a fried frog leg, or should I pick it up tenderly with my fingers?) and put it on my plate. The three others at the table sucked the long, thin bones clean of all their meat, tossing the remains on the platter closest to me, while my own leg selection sat perfectly plump awaiting any kind of sauce I could slather on it to masque the flavor of a meat I’d never tasted.
What was I so afraid of? I’d heard always, and it was repeated again for me tonight, that frogs’ legs taste just like chicken. But what-ever. They are the legs of frogs. There I was staring at this massive pile of long, crispy legs, thinking, “Whose are these? Are these all the right legs? Or the left? Are there two legs here that came from the same frog? Will I be able to taste the skin? What does frog skin taste like? Jesus Christ, please don’t let me taste anything.”
I couldn’t control my facial contortions as I poked my fork and knife into the thigh, piercing the crispy skin, exposing the white smooth flesh beneath it. I knew I was thinking about all the frog stories I’d heard of: “The Adventures of Frog and Toad,” for instance, one of the most formative works of literature in my childhood. Kermit the Frog–his “autobiography” a recent gift from a friend, sent to me a few months ago from the States. But those were side thoughts. Mostly I was thinking, “Fuck. This is s frog. This is disgusting.” And then I took one last breath and shut my eyes. I chewed the frog.
I’ve eaten pretty strange things in my life and have taken an odd sense of pride in having tried them: kongone, caviar, rabbit, giraffe, sheep’s brain. I get a kick out of telling my students I’ve tasted zebra and rave about its flavor and tenderness. So what was my big problem this time? Maybe it was, is, my shameful fear of the thing whose amputated and seasoned legs were presented before me. Once, when I worked at Merck Forest and Farmland Center, in Rupert, Vermont, one of my friends stepped on a frog and smushed that disgusting blob of flesh and water and gel all over her shoe and the dirt road. Frogs scare me here hopping at night on the sidewalk. They are big m-f’ers, so it’s not like I can ignore them, either. Everything about them seems amorphous and sticky and I suppose I am finally admitting I have a problem with their existence.
So I’m not really sure what to do with my new knowlege of the flavor of these things I dispise. And I’m not really sure there’s anything to do. I suppose I’ll go to bed and see what thoughts will surface in my dreams. I may wake up vegetarian.