Python pizzas have arrived in Florida, courtesy of an innovative pizza maker taking advantage of the ever-growing python population that has exploded across the state's everglades. "It tastes like chicken but chewier," says his wife.
The new "Everglades Pizza," as its being called, will feature thinly sliced Burmese python meat, or "snake slivers," which have been marinated for several hours before being served, according to Evan Daniell, the owner of Evan's Neighborhood Pizza in the Gulf Coast city of Fort Myers, where the python pizza is being sold, according to the Agence France-Presse.
"It was just to create talk about the shop and being creative and this thing literally just went viral," Daniell told the AFP. "People talk about it all the time and whether it's negative or positive, it really doesn't matter because the fact is: we can make it and it's delicious."
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In addition to the python meat, other toppings on the pizza include alligator and wild boar sausage, as well as frog legs, Daniell added.
Before laying it on the pizza, Daniell's says he cooks the python meat in the oven until it turns from pink to white.
"It's good but a little chewy," a Minnesota tourist named Mike told the AFP after he took a bite of the python pizza.
"It tastes like chicken but chewier," Mike's wife Becky added.
Pythons, which can grow up to 20 feet in length, have become an increasing menace throughout Florida, particularly in its everglades, where native species have been threatened by the invasive predatory snake since it was first introduced in 1979. According to some experts, there are believed to be hundreds of thousands of Burmese pythons slithering through the national park devastating the state’s ecosystem.
One of the reasons for the python population explosion in Florida in recent decades is because of people abandoning pet snakes in the warm habitat where they flourish considering the abundance of prey and no known predators in the Sunshine State.
"They get them as pets and when they get too big, they release them here," Roberto Torres, a field officer with The Nature Conservancy, told the AFP. "It's a perfect habitat for the snake -- it's wet, there is plenty of food. . . They'll eat anything they can catch -- birds, fish, mammals, cats, dogs."
Apart from the everglades, the pythons have even been spotted in Miami suburbs lying in wait along muddy wetlands for whatever prey might come their way.
Though pythons have become increasingly prevalent throughout Florida, the snake meat Daniell is serving up on his pizza is not local, but rather imported frozen from Vietnam.
Current food safety regulations in the state do not allow local pythons to be slaughtered and processed regularly to be sold in restaurants, the AFP noted.
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