“The first year we did it we got hate mail—emails and letters. I was worried we crossed the line,” says Seth Gross, owner of Bull City Burger and Brewing, talking about BCBB’s annual Exotic Meat Month.
Gross’s idea for Exotic Meat Month came from thinking about the fact that not everybody eats beef as their main protein and learning about how two-thirds of the planet relies on bugs as a protein source.
“It led me to thinking about different cultures and how we could think about diversity,” Gross says.
He started by serving up a bug burger—a beef patty topped with Gruyère and an assortment of bugs such as scorpion, larvae, and crickets.
When the anger and outrage subsided, a wave of applause and support followed. Exotic Meat Month is now in its seventh year and features fifteen to sixteen exotic meats annually. Alligator from Louisiana typically kicks off the festivities; this year, chef Cece Lopez turned it into a Creole-spiced sausage served in a bun.
“Alligator has a lake or pond fish sort of flavor like bass or trout; there’s an earthiness in the meat,” says Gross. “When you put spices in it and make into a sausage, it kind of does taste like chicken.”
True to the event’s original ethos, the team is always trying to expand the menu by researching how other cultures prepare the meats. This year, they made a curry with python and served it over rice, which is how the Vietnamese typically eat it (the python is sourced from Vietnam). There’s also a lot of wild game on offer, which might be an easier entry point for less adventurous palates, like an elk burger with black currant sauce on a freshly house-baked bun.
There’s a limited quantity of each meat, so ardent followers and devoted participants often check social media and time their visits, so they can get, say, the last of the rabbit meatball subs and snag the first helpings of turtle gumbo. Besides having the opportunity to try less widely available meats, participants who try seven different meats receive their choice of t-shirt, printed with sayings like “I never met a meat I wouldn’t eat” or “What in the world are you eating?”
If you’re feeling super adventurous, enter the raffle for a chance to eat a baked tarantula-topped burger. Just stop by the brewery to fill out a ticket (you don’t have to purchase anything) and, if your name is drawn, you have two days to come in and eat it. If you eat everything—legs, bun, and all—you get a t-shirt, your photo on the brewery’s Facebook page, and bragging rights for life.