Saturday, November 21, 2015

Be adventurous – Try Iguana Soup

I think travel is about discovering new places and learning about new cultures. Part of the discovery is learning to appreciate other people’s culture and respect the way they do things, their beliefs, and all aspects of their culture. One of the best ways to learn about people is to explore their cuisine. 


On our visit to Bonaire in September 2015, John and I stayed at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino.  The hotel had just completed a multi-million dollar renovation project that included an upgrade to both pools.  My favorite place to spend time was around the largest pool relaxing in one of the curtained cabanas. The pool had underwater music. 


The island is a semi-arid desert where iguanas are plentiful. Wildiguanas are indigenous to Mexico, Central America, parts of South America and some Caribbean islands like Bonaire. There are feral iguanas in California, Florida and Hawaii. Iguana Soup is a favorite of the local people claiming it is a cure-all for just about any malady plus it is an aphrodisiac, which seems to be the most common attribute given to unique foods. I liken eating iguana to people in parts of the United States who eat rabbits, squirrels, and frogs.  Iguanas are free for the capturing.


One day we visited the historic village of Rincon in the northern part of the island. The village is in a valley where it was safe from seafaring marauders.  We stopped by Posada Para Mira restaurant overlooking Rincon.  Their menu included many local favorites such as goat stew, conch soup, and iguana soup.  


After our return from Rincon we chatted with Divi’s general manager, Charles Vos, and mentioned that we saw iguana soup on the menu of Posada Para Mira. He said iguana meat tastes like chicken.  Laughingly, I said it seems that is the usual comment when describing the taste of exotic food. He said his chef would gladly show us how iguana soup is made even though it is not on the hotel’s menu.  


A few days later Mr. Vos said that Lucio Mercera, the sous chef, had an iguana and was ready to show us how the soup is prepared.  Iguana Soup sounds more exotic than it tastes. The tender meat had less flavor than chicken and the broth tasted like Knorr’s soup. It is very boney. I did a quick check on the internet and found iguana meat can be purchased from Exotic Meat Market, www.exoticmeatmarket.com. 











Iguana Soup
1 iguana, ready to cook (skinned, gutted)
½ (half) cup lemon juice
½ (half) cup vinegar
1 tsp salt
Water – as needed
½ (half) large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 large tomato, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 box Knorr’s instant noodle soup mix
1 tsp minced basil leaves


Cut the iguana into two-inch pieces with spine removed. Place in pot and cover with two inches of water. Add lemon, vinegar, and salt.  Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain. Cover with two to three inches of water. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat until iguana is tender – about one hour. Add vegetables, garlic, and soup mix. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook five to ten minutes or until vegetables are tender. Garnish with minced basil leaves. Serve.  Watch out for the small bones.

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