Illustration by Andrew Abbott
Frog’s legs are tasty, nutritious, and are eaten by most of the world’s population. Why are they not popular in the United States? Is it as simple as the old wives’ tale that frogs produce warts. (Then again, what if you kissed a frog’s leg, and it turned into a tiny prince’s leg? Well, that would probably be just as stigmatized. Anyway, back to the post.) Much of the reason probably has to do with America’s idea of meat. Meat is a cow, a pig, or some other farm yard mammal or bird. It is not something that you have to actually go out into the wild and hunt with a flashlight. This runs counter to how Americans have eaten for the last hundred years. In his book Hungering for America, Hasia R. Diner explains “American workers [and] transplanted Europeans…ate precisely those items which in Europe were defined as luxuries, foods reserved for the upper classes, with meat and white flour bread high on the list.” In the old country, a person hunted the easily accessible meat that was available. In the United States, it came to you. The idea of hunting frogs also does not fit into the Hemingway aesthetic in the same way that cattle ranching, fishing, or big-game hunting. Everyone remembers the great buffalo hunt, but nobody romanticizes Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. On top of this, after dissecting frog’s in high school, few students would want to eat them.
Surely, there are contemporary issues with eating frog’s legs, and these issues become apparent in the rest of the world. Ecological destruction and human poverty have begun to trouble frogs worldwide. In the Dominican Republic, people who must supplement their diet with frogs, as well as a deadly frog fungus, threaten the lives of the ‘mountain chicken’ a native frog species. This fungus also affects just about every amphibian except the American bull frog, which means that frog farming leads to devastation of local populations. Of course, throughout Asia and South and Central America, frog farming is a valuable cottage industry that many rural farmers use to supplement their income. This makes calls for boycotts from Americans and Europeans sometimes literally difficult to swallow. Their efforts would probably be better spent supporting programs that would empower frog farmers and hunters to find more sustainable ways to feed themselves and make a living.
The Frogs’ Legs Themselves: Ché and Mike’s Take
With all of this in mind, we wanted try frog for ourselves. Anh Hong in Dorchester serves, among the rest of their very tasty menu, curried frogs’ legs. We dove headfirst into our smoothies. Ché ordered a Durian smoothie, a preview, of a later post, which will be significantly more difficult than this one, something we knew when we could smell it though the straw. The frogs’ legs themselves were a pleasant surprise, if fairly neutral. Almost flavorless, they taste like chicken only because they’re fairly bland. They also have little hints of fish. The texture is almost like left-over fried chicken, sans the skin. The curry sauce that it was cooked in however, was pretty good, if it did not penetrate into the frog meat. In general, we can recommend the restaurant itself much more than frog meat. The shrimp noodles and the squid, which we also ordered, were much better.
Walking into any kind of Asian restaurant and being the only non Asians is always a good sign cause you know that probably means the foods going to be great. Walking into a Vietnamese restaurant and seeing a Chinese new year tree sitting in the middle of the room kind of confuses you. I was there for the food not necessarily the atmosphere although it was comfy place to enjoy an interesting meal. Sadly my camera’s batteries were dead so we weren’t able to get pictorial evidence of our journey into flavor country, but I’m hoping my accompanying illustrations convey our experience.
First up was our round of “smoothies”. More like milkshakes really. They taste mostly of whatever flavor we ordered blended with vanilla ice cream. Though at $2.50 a pop they were definitely the perfect combo of tasty and affordable. They had a decent array of smoothie ingredients you might not be familiar with including the three we got: avocado, durian, and jackfruit. I got the avocado smoothie and it was delicious. It had a very smooth texture and the flavor of the avocado really comes thru and doesn’t get lost in all the ice-cream. Plus it had this awesome neon green color to it too like a shamrock shake at McDonald’s except a lot tastier.
We chose this joint cause we were sure they had frogs legs on the menu the odd smoothies were just a bonus find. They had the legs them served in two different ways. One dish was served with the legs and lemon grass, but we got the curried frogs legs. The dish was served over thin yellow noodles with an assortment of vegetables and crushed peanuts over top. All these elements worked together to create a really unique flavor. The frog itself as many people report tastes a lot like chicken. A fishy chicken, but chicken nonetheless. It’s bland like chicken but flaky like the consistency of fish, and the skin provides an interesting texture. It’s not crunchy or slimy like some might think, but it gives the curry something to cling to.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve had frog, but it was so long ago that I didn’t remember it that well, and was excited to finally get the chance to try it again. It was a lot better than I remember, and was very pleased with the entire meal. I didn’t get sick or anything so that’s good too. I definitely recommend it for anyone who’s looking to try something new to give it a shot.
On a side note next week starting March 14th to the 19th is Restaurant Week in Boston and again from March 21st to the 26th so you can go to: http://www.bostonusa.com/visit/restaurantweek/restaurant-week/alphabetical-list-of-restaurants/1191 to check out a list or participating restaurants and scheduled events.
The RestaurantAnh Hong 291 Adams St. Dorchester, MA 02122 (617) 265-8889 Yelp