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>alligator & crocodile

At the cheap Chinese restaurant we frequent in downtown Oakland, they speak minimal English, and it is always packed. They do manage to explain, for instance, "chicken, wif ginseng". It comes in a tall individual cup, and the aroma released when you tear the paper seal is a delight.

Recently we asked what the special soup of the day was. "Um, don't know how to say it." "Meat or Vegetable?" "Meat." "Pork? Beef? Lamb?" "no, no, no..." This is a moment to reflect on the narrow range of choices we normally face. How did pigs and cows and sheep get to be the center of all this unwelcome attention? "Veal? Venison?" "??" "Chicken? Duck? Fish?" got a firm "No." Frog, rabbit, I was already running out of options.

Well, I had to know what it was.

"Long tail." Okay, let's play 20 questions. More like Charades. "Big teeth." (Horse?) "It lives in water." (Water snake?)" "Scary. Big mouth. Long face. Tail kill people."

"Crocodile???" "Yes!"

Bring it on. I'd rather eat cold-blooded reptiles and not think about warm cuddly piglets, calves and baby lambs. I know they sell alligator meat in the U.S. and crocodile meat is imported from places like Australia. In any case, it is fine-tasting meat, especially the tail, and don't let anyone tell you it tastes like chicken.

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