New Pizza Topping Debate: Iguana or Nah?

  • State inspectors found an 80-pound frozen iguana in a West Palm Beach pizzeria.
  • Iguana meat is well suited to tacos, stews, gumbo, kebabs, and maybe, pizza?

The pineapple on pizza debate has driven a wedge between families, friends, and pie-sharers long enough. Instead, what about topping your next slice with iguana meat? Some consider the reptile meat a delicacy and it’s common in the cuisine of Mexico and Central America. The low fat, high protein meat goes great in kebabs, tacos, stews, and…pizza?

Photo by Felix Serre on Unsplash

Giant Iguana Found in Freezer

Well, maybe, but not according to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation in West Palm Beach. During a routine inspection, the department found an 80-pound iguana in the freezer at Pizza Mambo. The restaurant itself didn’t offer a comment to the  Associated Press. But an employee gave more details of the story to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. According to the employee, the iguana was a gift for the pizzeria’s owner, for his personal consumption. While the owner hadn’t stored the gift in the main freezer with the restaurant’s food, there were plenty of other health violations in that area too.  


Photo by Steven HWG on Unsplash

Iguana Not the Biggest Problem

Pizza Mambo, operating with an expired license since December, received 27 violations from state inspectors, including ten offenses considered high-priority. Just your run-of-the-mill never-eat-there-again stuff like rodent dropping, mold on food, and unsanitized cooking utensils. 

The owner of Pizza Mambo threw the massive lizard away when he found out it was a violation. Which is a shame, because most iguanas top out at around 20 pounds and this one weighed more than most third graders. A female iguana can lay about 80 eggs a year. Which is probably why non-native species populations are booming and a nuisance in Florida. Officials encourage locals to kill the animals to help control the population. They’re leaving it up to personal discretion whether they’re a good pizza topping. 

 

A cold snap in Florida in January had the reptiles dropping from the trees, leading the Facebook Marketplace in some areas to get flooded with offers for iguana meat. The US considers the species a pest in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the south. But in Central America, the green iguana is endangered and valued as a delicacy. 

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Iguanas aren’t dangerous to humans (although inappropriate in restaurant freezers). But they can damage infrastructure by digging long tunnels beneath sidewalks and seawalls. Also, pineapple on pizza forever.

 

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