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April 11, 2014

Frog legs always a neat treat

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The Daily Star

---- — We ate at a local restaurant a couple of weeks ago and had frog legs. They’re one of my favorites and I hadn’t had them for several years, so I was excited.

There used to be a place in New Berlin that had fantastic frog legs on the menu, but it’s been closed for years. I envisioned yokes of legs, deep fried and stacked high on the plate with a pile of french fries.

Well, that wasn’t the case. They were delicious, but the legs were served with onions, peppers and other items in a sauce.

I know, like the porcupine, some of you are turning up your noses. They taste like a cross between a very mild fish and chicken and resemble chicken wings.

Frog legs bring back a lot of memories.

During my pre-teen years, I would go to some of the local swamps and ponds to catch frogs. Back then, I used a long, bamboo pole with a short string and a small piece of red flannel or felt. All I had to do was sneak up through the grass and dangle the red cloth in front of the frog, and they’d grab it. Once that tongue reached out to catch the imitation insect, they were mine. I’d put them into a burlap sack and take them home. Before long, they were in a frying pan.

Did you know that freshly caught frog legs kick when they’re cooking? Being a cold-water animal, rigor mortis does not set in quickly like it does in warm-blooded animals. So their muscles contract and twitch while they’re cooking.

By the time I was a teenager, I could hunt them with a .22 caliber rifle. I returned to those same farm ponds and woodland swamps to get a nice mess at least once or twice a year. It was a delicacy that is loved by many around the world, including me.

In later years, I had a Lab that was great at retrieving the green swamp creatures. I’d shoot one and Skeeter would be in the water in a flash. But the frogs from these local waters were far smaller than the ones you get today.

Frog legs are very popular in French and Cantonese cuisine. Most of the frogs available today come from countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand. While eating them, I wonder what’s in the water in which they are raised. It’s amazing that $40 million worth of frogs are sold annually. They are rich in protein, Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin A and potassium.

I found a place in Louisiana that has American-raised frogs and get them shipped right to my door. They are a little expensive, but at least they were not taken from a river where half the third-world population bathes.

There’s a season on frogs and a small game or fishing license is required to get them. They can be harvested from June 15 until Sept. 30.

I wonder if anyone even bothers to hunt them anymore. I guess the bigger bull frogs are active at night, but they can’t be taken after sunset with a gun. Maybe I will try it again someday and relive the days of old. It sort of makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

What’s Happening?

Trout Unlimited’s Introduction to Fly Fishing Course will run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 10 at the Hanford Mills Museum in East Meredith. If you’ve ever thought about trying it, this is the place to start. Bring a bag lunch and equipment. Loaner equipment is available. The class is limited to 40 students and the cost is $40. Registration ends May 8. For more information, call Marge Harris from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 607-263-5767 or Dave Plummer at 607-563-1978.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at robrockway@hotmail.com.