Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day 247 - Eating Frog Legs

I have never eaten frog legs. Frankly, the idea of eating the appendages of a swamp-and-river dwelling amphibian known for its sliminess has been something I have sought to avoid up to this point in my life. Despite the fact everyone I knew that tried frog legs said they were a delicious little snack that tasted like chicken, I had no desire to confirm their opinions. As far as I was concerned, if I wanted to eat something that tasted like chicken I would eat chicken.

The Tornado Room

Now, when looking at the variety of strange things I have eaten during the course of my “I have never...” year, I recognized the fact that eating frog legs was much less taboo than many of my recent experiences. As a result, I started to rethink my perspective on trying the food. After a little persuasion from Rachael, I ultimately decided I need to look past my prejudgments about the food, set aside my aversions, and give the food a try. As a result, I tracked down a few locations that served frog legs in Madison and set aside time to tackle the experience this evening.

Oh, God.
The few choices I encountered for eating frog legs in Madison eventually led me to choose the Tornado Room Steakhouse off of the capitol square as the location that would help me gain my new experience on this “Tasty Tuesday” in my “I have never...” year. As a result, Rachael and I headed out into the blustery, snowy weather tonight to grab a quick bite to eat at a location known for its delicious fare. When we arrived at the Tornado Room, we were quick to take a seat at one of several open booths near the bar. Anxious to get my experience underway and over with, I was quick to find the frog legs on the menu and place my order with the server as soon as he approached our table. Although I was a bit hasty in my order, Rachael was quick to follow suit with an order of scallops and a glass of wine. As the server jotted down our order and walked away, the realness of the situation hit me. Although I had never had any intention to eat frog legs throughout my life, I was minutes away from having a plate of them dropped on the table in front of me.

Waiting for our food to arrive, Rachael and I talked about the day and periodical touched on the forthcoming experience. Although I was doing my best to play off the experience as nothing out of the ordinary, I knew my mild uneasiness at the idea of eating the frog legs was easy to detect. “Do they really taste like chicken?” I asked Rachael unprompted as I fidgeted with my napkin and place settings. In response, Rachael rolled her eyes and snickered, “Kind of... You’ll be fine. They’re actually quite good.” I could have predicted the response, but my unrelenting uncertainty about the experience drove me to seek any reassurance I could.  As I thought over her response, I looked up from the table. “I really hope so,” I said grabbing my glass of water, “I mean, it can’t be any worse than half of the other stuff I’ve eaten, right?”

Before Rachael could answer our server round the corner with two plates in his hand. As if on cue, he placed a plate of five fired frog legs in front of me. “Alright, there are your frog legs,” he said moving his attention to Rachael, “and your scallops. Enjoy.” As the server took a step back from the table, I offered the only response that came to mind, “I’ll do my best.” As soon as the remark escaped my lips its awkwardness became apparent, causing me to look up at the server with a befuddled look. Clearly struggling to find a suitable reply he nodded his head and smiled before walking away from the table. I realized I had likely just created on of the oddest interactions of the server’s evening, but that fact was overshadowed by a single reality; I had frog legs in front of me, and I was about to eat them.

I took a few minutes to look over the plate before carefully grabbing the very end of one of the frog legs. Bringing it closer for examination, the slight glimpses of glistening meat peeking through the breading made me cringe a bit, but I quickly concluded I couldn’t focus on such features if I was going to make it through the experience. In turn, I looked up at Rachael and took a deep breath. Then, in one fluid movement I tucked the frog leg between my teeth and rand the bone clean of meat. In response, the thin stretches of frog leg rolled into my mouth and across my tongue.

Kinda tasty!

Almost immediately, my mouth filled with a light fried chicken flavor balanced against a bit of orange citrus. As I started chewing the pieces of meat the taste mixed into a somewhat nice blend of flavors, but the bits of tendon and cartilage that met my teeth as I worked through the meat were almost too much to bear.  While the taste was good in its own right, it wasn’t as full as that of chicken and the small, hard bits of tissue that came with the frog legs weren’t doing much to make me crave more. As a result, I carefully picked at the remaining frog legs, eating what I could as to avoid wasting any part of the food. Eventually, my effort resulted in a plate of only bones and other inedible bits, which made me happy but left me wondering if eating frog legs is truly worth the effort.

The remains

As we wrapped up our evening at the Tornado Room Steakhouse, Rachael and I talked about my overall thoughts on the experience. I was quick to conclude that although the frog legs were tasty enough, I would easily take a chicken wing over a frog leg any day of the week. The flavor of frog legs simply isn’t as full as that of chicken, and the mess that comes with trying to pick the frog meat apart from the rest of the leg simply isn’t worth the effort. While I would easily eat frog legs again if I had little to no choice for anything better, I don’t think it is likely I will voluntarily give them another try if presented a menu of any number of delicious alternatives. To me, there are just better, and much more pleasant, foods out there, which is an ironic conclusion to reach from this experience considering the things I have put in my stomach over the past eight months.

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