Saturday, October 20, 2007

More than You Need to Know About Armadillos

From hours and hours of extensive research (well, honestly, that’s really about 10 minutes on the Internet), I bring you the latest in armadillo leprosy news. One of my most astute readers questioned whether armadillos carried leprosy, and I felt the need to double-check my “facts.”

And the first Googled source turned out to be an old friend of sorts, Cecil Adams from The Straight Dope answering the question, Is it true that armadillos carry leprosy? Cecil dubs himself “the world’s smartest human being” and has written several books and has a column in the Chicago Reader. The Straight Dope’s tagline is “fighting ignorance since 1973 (It’s taking longer than we thought).

Bear with me as I conclude this tangent before expounding further on armadillos and leprosy. While I never had any connection to Cecil, his long-time illustrator, Slug Signorino, had done illustrations for some of husband’s magazines. So, it was fun to see that old Slug is still at it. I recommend a visit to The Straight Dope Web site for an entertaining and enlightening excursion.

Apparently armadillos can carry leprosy. In the 1970s, 15 to 20 percent of the wild armadillos in Texas and Louisiana were found to carry leprosy. Yet, researchers in Florida found no sign of leprosy in 3,000 armadillos they examined. In the mid-80s a few people were found to have leprosy in Texas and Louisiana who had had no contact with human carriers. Their only connection had been some contact with armadillos—either racing them, extracting the meat or making stuff out of the shells.

The use of armadillos infected with leprosy has also enabled researchers to search for new drugs to treat the disease in humans and to test whether older ones induce resistance after prolonged treatment. Source: Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Advice from the Kitchen Sink: If you are dead set on eating or racing armadillos make damn sure they aren’t from Texas or Louisiana.

NOTE: I am not advocating eating armadillo but here’s a recipe found on the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Web site if you are ever tempted to try it.


1 1/4 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed (optional)
1/4 cup butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1 med. onion, sliced thin
1 armadillo, cleaned and cut into serving pieces
1 1/4 cups light cream
1 tbsp. brown mustard (e.g. Gulden's) or Poupon Dijon
1 tbsp. cornstarch

Mix all ingredients of marinade and add armadillo. Marinate about 8 hrs., turning meat occasionally. Remove armadillo and reserve marinade.

Melt butter in deep skillet and brown armadillo pieces. Pour in marinade and bring to a boil. Stir in seasoning, cover and simmer until tender (about 1 - 1 1/4 hours.) Remove skillet from the fire and place armadillo pieces on a warmed platter.

Mix mustard and cornstarch, then mix in cream. Return skillet to low heat and stir in this mixture a little at a time. Stir sauce until hot, but not boiling, and thickened. Pour sauce over armadillo. Serve with steamed rice.


Lorelei said...

I think I will post this recipe at our local "grocery" store -- which seems like the type to either sell roadkill, or at least have shoppers who would eat roadkill.

Jay Croft said...

So, the State of North Carolina is advocating the consumption of armadillo? I guess they're even further behind than Alabama.

One person who has lived in NC much of her adult life told me that NC leads the nation in the number of, shall we say, "outdoor plumbing?"

Which reminds me--it always amuses me to see a fancy new house under construction, and there's a porta-potty outside. Guess the folks can't afford indoor plumbing. ;-)

Naomi said...

Great post Sheila. I remember learning about Armadillos at school but never knew they carried leprosy. I believe they have a tough armour-like shell. Wouldn't fancy eating one though! Think I'll pass on that!

Palm Springs Savant said...

interesting post. Seems a bit gross to me. I'm more of a chicken eater myself!!!

Janey Loree said...

Growing up in Texas, I have heard that armadillo tastes like chicken, but you won't find this Texan eating armadillo! No siree!!!

I hit one once when I was first learning to drive and felt awful for a long time.

Miss Trashahassee said...

Armadillo in mustard sauce? Is this France?

We don't eat nothin' but ketchup on our armadilloes around here.

Mustard sauce? Ewwwwwwww!

Next thing you know you'll be putting mustard sauce on possum.

That's an abominashun.

Miss T

P.S. Got any good recipes for armadillo and ketchup? I'll be your best friend for a week if you do.

Sheila said...

Please find another grocery store.

That's a good point about the construction port-a-potties. You would think that the bathroom would get high priority. I think Alabama has let herself be the brunt of too many bad jokes. Other states shouldn't be calling the pot black when they have their own "kettles."

I'm with you on wanting to eat them. In a small Alabama town south of where I used to live they have an annual Rattlesnake Roundup where they eat the snakes. Let's just say I never went to that.

PSS and Janey,
Why is it that everything tastes like chicken? Janey, I can't believe I haven't hit an armadillo yet since I see so many dead along side the road.

Miss T,
If ens I thought you twere serious, I'd send you the receipt with ketchup for them armadillos. It's a kinda bar-b-cue style and sounds real tastee, but if en you got a possum, I believe it'd work too.

Anonymous said...

Check out the web site of the National Hansen's Disease Programs

Joe said...

Here's a list of some of the strange things I have actually eaten:

Frogs, snakes, squid, snails (they try to disguise it by giving it a fancy name like "escargot" but the rubbery ball of snot is still just a snail) Octopus (aka calamari)(Here again, a tentacle is still a tentacle...) Haggis(sp?), Shark steaks...nope, no armadillo.

Of course there was that one time when I was five and we took a family vacation to Bassfield, Mississippi to visit my uncle Harold and aunt Mary and she wouldn't tell any of us what the strange meat was in her pot-pie...

Sheila said...

That's a good link to more information about the disease, which HRSA points out is rare. No mention made of armadillos though.

You are pretty open to new things it looks like. I'm the opposite. I would barely try boar when we visited Italy and was surprised to see horse on the menu in one little trattoria. I will not be trying any armadillo any time soon.

Marion said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post, Sheila. I told a few people about Armadillos...and nobody believed me! So now I am going to give your blog address to all those naysayers!

But I gotta say...that recipe looks mighty tasty. I think everything had mustard sauce on it as I grew up...we ate things like goat meat and horse meat (a delicacy in Germany, apparently...probably during the war) and I'm sure my mother disguised whatever meat it was with mustard sauce. It can kill the taste of any critter.

Eel was something my mother loved. I remember fishing for those things. I can't remember whether I ate them or not...probably blocked it out.

I've eaten rattlesnake...believe me ,it doesn't taste like chicken to me, lol! Maybe we didn't marinate it long was kinda stringy. And tough. Oh,'s not like it's on my dinner menu very often, if at all!

This post and the comments are great...thank you for the link...I will have fun reading that site.

Jay Croft said...

Opp, Alabama, has a rattlesnake festival every year.

Of course, the citizens of that town are smart. They round up the rattlers and feed them to the tourists, and even make them pay for the privilege!

Sheila said...

You are certainly a brave eater to try all those critters and rattlesnake too. I might actually try armadillo but I'd have to know it wasn't from Texas or Louisiana first. I hope you get to check out Cecil's The Straight Dope Web site. It is jam-packed with funny questions and the forum is really interesting too.

I think those folks in Opp are right bright to feed the snakes to the tourists. I do not like snakes, dead or alive.

Waitress Polly said...

Well, when my daughter's school asks for a recipe in their fund raiser cookbook, I'll be sure to submit this one.

I've never seen one... would like to though.

A few nights ago, the dog and I got chased home by a skunk.

It missed us by a whiff.

Sheila said...

That would be funny. I have seen "joke" recipes but I think this one might be serious. You are so lucky not to have been skunked. I was always afraid that would happen when we lived in Illinois and our neighborhood had skunks. Better get that recipe for what to bath the dog in if it happens.