Out Our Backdoor – And a Recipe for Adventuresome Souls
When you walk or drive around our part of the world, if you see rocks in the sun on a lightly travelled road, there will probably be an iguana or two hanging out, soaking up the rays. As cold-blooded reptiles, they need plenty of sun to regulate their body temperatures.
In Quintana Roo, we have green iguanas, though they may appear to be in colors other than green; usually we see them in grey with black stripes. In fact, the coloration and patterning of iguanas can change, similar to chameleons but at a slower rate, and this helps them hide from predators. They shed approximately four times per year, with their skin flaking off in bits and pieces at time.
Primarily herbivores, iguanas are active during the day, feeding on leaves, flowers, and fruit. Iguanas’ stout build gives them a clumsy look, but they can move fast on land and they are excellent swimmers. They have strong jaws with razor-sharp teeth and sharp tails that make up half their body length and can be used as whips to drive off predators. They can also detach their tails if they’re caught, and will grow another without permanent damage, even though a re-grown tail is never as pretty as the original; it kind of looks like a rat’s tail!
Iguanas can get as large as 5’- 6’, including their tail, but we’ve only ever seen them anywhere that large on Isla Mujeres. Due to predators and their penchant for hanging out on roads, they rarely seem to get larger than three or so feet long.
In some places of the world, including South Florida, USA, iguanas are pests. They are a traditional food source, and in that spirit, we’ve included a traditional Mexican recipe for cooked iguana. ¡Provecho!
Iguana en Pinol (Iguana with toasted corn flour)
- 1 Iguana – female
- 3 sour oranges
- 1 garlic bulb
- 4 large onions
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 12 c. water
- 1 lb. dry corn (powdered)
- 1 tsp. red pepper
- 3/4 bottle of pork grease (they sell this in bottles?? Maybe lard?)
- Salt to taste
The first day:
- After the iguana has been killed, open the stomach and below, take out the eggs and intestines. Clean the eggs very well with the sour oranges. Put the eggs in the arms with the Iguana in all its skin.
- Later in the day cook the eggs in salt water for 10 minutes, then let them sit in the water until they are cold. Store them in refrigerator.
Early the following day:
- Soak the iguana in cold water. Skin it and wash it once more. Cut the iguana into small pieces and cook it with 8 cups of water with salt, garlic, sliced onion, and black pepper. Grind it into a soft mass and mix it with the gravy.
- Cook the corn in water until soft, then brown it (not too darkly) and grind to a lumpy mass. Take 4 cups of this corn, mix with the gravy and iguana and cook, stirring constantly until it is well cooked.
- In 2 1/2 cups of pork grease, fry 3 onions (chopped fine) until clear and light brown.
- Set aside a few onions. With the rest, add the powdered pepper, iguana mixture, more salt, sour oranges, and, if necessary, more pork grease. Do not let get too dry.
Let us know what you think!