Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In which it doesn't taste like chicken

Yesterday was Mad Scientist's 16th birthday. We went to Zinc for dinner to celebrate and they were serving frog legs as an appetizer special. Jon, it turns out, loves frog legs, something I never knew about him. He rhapsodized on their deliciousness at length: frog legs were the best thing since sliced bread, if he were to be stranded on a desert island and could take just one food with him, it would be frog legs, etc, and soon had us whipped into a frenzy of desire for frog. I have always felt that I could go to my grave without ever having eaten a frog leg, and have no regrets. On the other hand, I didn't want to be a wet blanket and sit with an empty plate while everybody else enjoyed their frog legs. And if Jeffrey Steingarten could persuade me that a cricket taco might be worth trying, surely I could taste a dish that is loved by the French—the people most devoted to food of any on earth. I imagined that I could pick up a frog leg, and by not looking closely at it, could imagine it was, say, a chicken drumstick. And we all know what they say about frog's legs.

So. I was utterly unprepared for the legs to be served in pairs. That is, the frog legs were still attached to each other, much as they are in their natural state when they are still attached to a frog, although not drenched in butter and garlic. Jon speared a pair of legs off the platter and they flapped in such a way that I imagined all the legs gathering strength and hopping away from us. It was like being on Fear Factor. I could see Miss G was rapidly losing enthusiasm, but the other kids were still game, indeed, Mr. McP and Drama Queen ate with gusto, had second helpings, even. Mad Scientist pronounced the frog legs “good” but he sounded like he was trying to convince himself that he believed it. Miss G would not try them.

I needed to be strong. I could not sit there and not taste the frog legs when my nine year old son was happily gobbling them. I spotted a small piece of frog meat on the platter. It had become separated from its leg and seemed easier to swallow, so to speak. I popped it in my mouth and immediately was acutely, agonizingly, conscious that I had taken a bite of a frog. I literally almost barfed right on the table in the middle of Zinc. What I wanted to do more than anything was to spit it out, but one does not spit out one's food in a hip ironic bistro. It took every ounce of my self control to chew and swallow that bit of frog leg and not vomit publicly. Frog does not taste like chicken. It's more akin to fish, actually, but what it really tastes like is frog. How do you know what frog tastes like? As Supreme Court Justice William Brennan famously said about obscenity, “I know it when I see it,” the same is true for frog.

I should note that this is not to imply that Zinc is not a good restaurant, or that my aversion to the frog legs was caused by some lack of skill on the chef's part or that the frog legs were unwholesome. This is my issue, not Zinc's, and as I pointed out, three of the six of us thought the frog legs were great. The rest of my meal was delicious.


  1. [shudder]

    Yep, I'm pretty sure there's no chance I'm giving that one a try.

  2. I will second JenontheEdge.
    Yucky- feel a little like throwing up now. have to think of something delicious, thank goodness for cvillian's free food post- I love me some Gearharts chocolate.

  3. I don't care if I sound like a provincial rube: ain't no WAY I'm ever eating frog legs. Especially after seeing a horrific documentary called "Manda Bala" - about a frog farm, among other unsavory things. I had no idea how many people in Brazil are kidnapped and mutilated. :(

  4. Sweet. Mother. Moses. In pairs? Still attached?!

    I totally would have barfed. Good for you for trying them! I guess.