Eating muskrat, gator, and tarantulas at the Explorer's Club Dinner
What'd you have for dinner on Saturday? Croissant Pockets? We had snakehead fish, alligator thigh, and tarantula.
Enter NYC's Explorer's Club -- the 110yr-old organization whose members have been to the North & South Poles, the moon, and some of the deepest points in the ocean, and apparently eat goat penis the whole damn time, which is why the game-filled cocktail hour preceding the dinner proper is considered by many to be the gastronomic highlight of their explorer-y lives.
Saturday night's 110th Annual Explorer's Club Dinner was just like the 109th Annual Explorer's Club Dinner, except with less James Cameron, unfortunately. Here's the craziest stuff we took at least one bite of:
The Dish: Critter Tea Sandwiches
How It Tasted: Once we got past the fact that this looks like something they would've served at the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom dinner, these were actually kinda flavorful. The tiny insect eggs and spread (the yellow stuff) didn't taste like anything weird, whereas the crunch of the larvae um, definitely did.
The Dish: Two Entire Alligators
How It Tasted: You really haven't lived until you've had alligator from an alligator carving station. The meat here was mainly from the thigh, which was supposed to be the tastiest/fattiest part of these guys, and definitely was: the meat was tender, juicy, and super flavor-filled (with some help from a delicious glaze).
The Dish: Fried Alligator
How It Tasted: Like the best calamari in the world, but better. And they definitely weren't skimping on the portions.
The Dish: Beaver
How It Tasted: The presentation was kinda sorta SUPER TERRIFYING, as was the taste of the beaver, which we'd equate to a dried-out hamburger. Let's just say if we were deserted literally anywhere (yes, even Canada), this is probably the last thing we'd eat to save our lives.
The Dish: Snakehead Fish
How It Tasted: This invasive fish species was jam-packed with flavor (with the usual ways you'd prepare a fish -- lots of olive oil, chili flake, pepper, and salt), but in the end, we just couldn't get past the creepy tongue/Little Mermaid flashbacks.
The Dish: Bull Penis
How It Tasted: This, shockingly, was a first for us. We took a bite of a smaller piece that was loaded with some delicious sautéed peppers, and it was pretty easy to get down. But it had an unpleasant after-taste because, bull penis.
The Dish: Whole Goat
How It Tasted: They purposely left the insides of the goat for all to see (stomach, ... organs around a stomach...), and while those were gross, this totally wasn't: it had a tangy, almost bitter taste to it, and was much chewier than anything else at the cocktail hour.
The Dish: Oh this? It's a tarantula. On a stick.
How It Tasted: We're gonna agree with the comments from everyone standing around us, so... "very hairy", "very crispy", and, "oh my God, can I die from this?"
The Dish: Muskrat
How It Tasted: The teeth were terrifying, as were the tufts of hair still left on its mangy little paws. Oh, wait, the meat? The meat was super delicious. It was like eating a tender, juicy piece of lamb shank.
The Dish: Ostrich
How It Tasted: If we were stranded miles from civilization in Africa, this would taste like a Big Mac with French fries. Then again, so would a handful of sand.
The Dish: Goat Penis
How It Tasted: Rubbery, raw, and generally a bit disturbing.
The Dish: Larva Lo Mein
How It Tasted: Like Asian noodles at Mission Chinese. It was sweet from the peppers, hearty from the meat, and seasoned enough that you forgot you were eating tiny little almost-babies.
Julie Cerick is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist, and would like you to know that there is nothing more terrifying than eating goat penis. Nope, not even that. Follow her on Twitter.