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Frogalicious: Frog gigging for food, fun in Texas

Tex Messages
Email   Print   Share By Janna Lewis, III Corps PAO
June 11, 2009 | Leisure
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Illustration by Jenifer Immer, Sentinel Designer
Summertime in Texas means frog giggin’. Yep. That’s just one more of our barbaric customs here in the Lone Star State. Please note that I’m not advocating that folks run out and start torturing frogs; far from it. I’m just gonna share a little Texacentric summertime tradition with you.

And yeah. It’s gross.

What, you may ask, is frog giggin’?

Frog gigging is essentially bullfrog hunting for the purpose of eating their legs.

I warned you it was gross. But it’s no more nasty than eating beef, poultry or pork if you think about it. A critter is a critter, after all, with some variance in flavor.

Avid frog giggers practice the hunt in the southern U.S. and the legs are considered a delicacy, much as they are in France, Portugal, Spain, northwestern Greece, Indonesia, China, the Caribbean Islands and in parts of India.

The hunt, of course, requires special gear.

The “gig” is a small spear with 3 to 5 prongs on it, and these can be bought at area bait shops or discount department stores in the sporting goods section. The gig is then attached to a straight pole of about 6 to 12 feet in length.

The other piece of hunting apparel/equipment is a headlamp strapped to your head. Don’t use an LED bulb; your light will be too widespread. Just a regular spotlight bulb will do.

As a matter of fact, yes, you will look like a complete idiot wearing the thing. But the hunting happens at night. Nobody’s gonna see you except a game warden. And you might want to make sure you’re not violating any hunting or fishing laws before you go out and do this gigging thing. And if you go giggin’, be sure you eat what you “gig.” To do otherwise is murder.

Let me state for the record that I do not go frog gigging. I remember my father and his brothers going out to do the deed. I was about three or four years old; young enough for the event to make a lasting impression. Daddy and his two younger brothers went out one night to the stock tank on my grandmother’s farm and brought back more frogs than were present when Moses went to visit the Pharoah in the Book of Exodus. It was that night that I learned a little forensic medical truth about frogs.

Frog muscles deal with rigor mortis differently than chicken, cow or hog muscles, so heat from cooking can cause fresh frog legs to twitch. It might have been a good idea to let my aunt know that before Gammy started cooking ‘em.

I told you this was gonna be nasty. I was asked, on many occasions, to go frog giggin’ with fellas I knew in high school. Wisely, I chose not to go. I was pretty well convinced that the frogs weren’t the focus of the evening, but if they were, well…bleh…

That’s not to say I won’t eat frog legs. I most certainly will. I’ve even ordered the things at fancy, French restaurants. I wouldn’t say frog legs taste like chicken, but they sure don’t taste like beef and I’m not in the habit of tasting other amphibians so I don’t have anything really against which to compare them. If you haven’t tried them, I recommend that you swallow your city-kid freak-out factor and give ‘em a go. They’re actually quite good.

By the way, I can’t understand people thinking French cooking is all that highbrow if frog legs, snails and goose pate’ are on the menu. We rural folks have been eating these and other things, such as crawdads, chicken livers and “sweet meats,” since time immemorial. Caviar probably never would have taken off with the upscale crowd if we’d been eating them first and calling them what they actually are: “fish eggs.”

Culinary adventures aside, if frog giggin’ is not your particular cup of tea, I recommend you enjoy the ambience of a Texas summer night sitting in the vicinity of a stock tank, lake or creek just listening to the frogs call on one another. It is a music of sorts. It sounds like they’re saying, “EEEEeat! EEEEeat! EEEEeat!” with the occasional “BOOOORRRP!!!!” in the middle and finishing with “Ate it! Ate it! Ate it!”

Kinda makes you hungry just listening to it.
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