Tastes Just Like Sparrow

Exotic, “invasive” dishes are coming to America:

The Corvallis, Oregon-based Institute for Applied Ecology’s (IAE) Eradication by Mastication program includes an annual invasive species cook-off and a published cookbook called The Joy of Cooking Invasives: A Culinary Guide to Biocontrol (kudzu quiche! nutria eggrolls!). The program will hold a workshop this summer on how to dig, process, and cook up the highly invasive purple varnish clam. Tom Kaye, executive director of IAE, made one of three prize-winning entries at last year’s cook-off: battered, deep-fried Cajun bullfrog legs. Second place went to popcorn English house sparrow drumsticks. Despite their poor labor-to-meat ratio, Kaye says, “they were tasty.” Third prize went to nutria prepared three ways, including pulled-pork style and made into sausages. …

“It’s a chicken and egg situation,” says Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch. “Getting more product available will make it easier for chefs to be able to cook with it. That could be a win-win situation for the environment and people who like eating interesting things.” But she adds, “I really think a well-known chef needs to take it up.”