1940s Recipes + Menus

Fried Lizard

The Way We Cooked: Vintage Gourmet

October 1949

First, literally catch your lizard. Read on and you will understand why we resort to this overused phrase. The rough skinned, vegetarian lizards are your prey for the pan, never the smooth-skinned kind that eat insects. They are generally found in old hollow arborvitae trees, or in Panamanian kitchens. Mexian and Central American hunters cut a hole high up in the trunk and another lower down, and if the little reptile cannot be stirred out with a stick thrust in from the top, a few hot coals dropped down in make him pop out of the bottom hole. He is seized and kept alive until the cook is ready for him.

After skinning the lizard, dress and cut up the meat. Marinate it in sour orange juice, or in sweet orange juice acidulated with lemon juice. Add 1 teaspoon whole peppers and a dash nutmeg. After 3 hours, drain and wipe the meat dry. Season with salt, dip in beaten egg and in fine bread crumbs, and fry in deep, hot fat. Or it may be sautéed butter until it is brown and tender.

This exclusive recipe is pulled directly from Gourmet's archive. It has not been re-tested by our food editors since it was published in the magazine, but it's a pretty good indication of the kinds of things we once cooked—and ate—with great pleasure.

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