Intrepid Florida residents trapped a 12-foot python in their grill
Florida residents trapped an enormous Burmese python in a backyard grill this weekend.
America’s barbecues see a lot of action over the Fourth of July weekend, but this year’s award for best use a backyard grill must go to some residents of Florida City, Fla., who used theirs to trap an enormous python this weekend.
According to ABC News, neighborhood residents spotted the 12-foot Burmese python slithering around their neighborhood at around 10 p.m. Thursday. The fire department’s venom rescue unit was called, but while waiting for responders to arrive and take the snake away, residents decided the best thing to do was to try to capture the python themselves and contain it until the fire department could arrive.
Somehow, the residents managed to successfully trap the snake in someone’s backyard barbecue. It must have been a pretty large grill, because authorities say the snake was 12 feet long, and a photo posted to Twitter indicates it was also quite big around.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesperson Arnold Piedrahita Jr. said the snake would be turned over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Burmese pythons are considered an invasive species in South Florida. They are not native to the area, and because of their large size they have few Florida predators besides alligators and humans.
How to Grill Fish en Papillote (+3 amazing recipes) July 19, 2018
En papillote — also known as cooking “in a packet” — is a fuss-free and flavorful way to cook seafood. Continue reading to learn more about the technique sophisticated enough to be used in fancy restaurants but simple enough to work at home, too.
In traditional French “en papillote” cooking, food is sealed in parchment paper packets and then baked. Flavors mingle and intensify as the steam conducts heat and gently cooks what’s inside. Not only is there little to no cleanup, but it also makes for a stunning presentation as the folds of the packet are opened up like a present to reveal an elegant and aromatic result.
But because it’s summer, we’re swapping out the parchment paper for foil (which is easier to seal tightly and also reseal if you snag a quick peek during cooking) and trading in the oven for a grill.
To make the packet, bring the long sides of the foil together above the food. Fold it down a couple times, then roll in the open ends to form a well-sealed pouch. Be sure to leave room between the food and the foil for steam to develop.
And don’t be afraid to throw veggies, citrus, spices, and herbs in there with the seafood to amp up the color and infuse even more flavor.
These three simple en papillote fish dishes are the perfect stress-free solution for date night, family night, or even entertaining a crowd. Just sit back and let the steam work its magic.
Python caught in Malaysia could be the longest ever recorded
The reticulated python – a species found in south-east Asia and widely considered as the longest reptile species – was spotted where a flyover was being built in Paya Terubong, a district on the island and tourist haven of Penang.
Herme Herisyam, an official with Malaysian department that caught the snake, told the Guardian that workers from the construction site called the emergency services on Thursday and authorities took 30 minutes to trap the snake.
“It is eight metres in length and weighs about 250kg,” he said by phone.
It emerged later on Monday that the python died on Sunday after giving birth. Herisyam told the Guardian that the snake, which was caught on Thursday, had died after laying an egg. It is not clear why the serpent perished.
A video posted on the Malaysian Star news website showed a man kicking the python.
Members of Malaysia’s Civil Defence Force hold a python believed to be 8 metres long and found on Penang island. Photograph: Herme Herisyam, Malaysia’s Civil Defence Force
The Guinness Book of World Records gives the honour of longest snake ever in captivity to Medusa, also a reticulated python, who lives in Missouri and is kept on show at The Edge of Hell Haunted House in Kansas City. She was measured at 7.67 meters in the 2011 edition and still holds the title.
She is said to weigh 158.8 kg, over 90 kg lighter than the Malaysian specimen.
Before Medusa took the title, the previous record holder for longest snake in captivity was Fluffy, a 7.3m python who died in 2010 at 18 years old.
Reticulated pythons, who have a gridded pattern on their skin that gives them their name, are normally three to six metres long and can be found in water.
Longer snakes could be living in the wild. In 1912, a python found and shot in Indonesia was reportedly 10 metres long.
The world’s biggest Burmese python is this man’s pet snake
An English dad claims his pet Burmese python has grown into the world’s biggest, but is still welcome to live in his home — alongside his much smaller children.
Marcus Hobbs, 31, bought Hexxie from a pet shop eight years ago when the reptile was just 8 inches long. The constrictor is now over 18 feet, Hobbs claims.
“I knew she would be big but she has shocked everybody by how much she has grown,” Hobbs, an IT worker from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, told South West News Service.
The potentially lethal reptile, who is still growing, chows down on rabbits, stillborn deer, calves, goats and pigs — and poops enough to fill a large trash bag once a month, according to the news agency.
Experts say the biggest Burmese python was 18 feet, 8 inches long, but Hobbs claims Hexxie is even bigger.
Gloucestershire Live / SWNS
“I am very passionate about snakes and I try to help people understand them,” Hobbs said, adding, “I think people are so scared of them because they think they are going to kill them, but if people come around, I can talk to them all day long about snakes to reassure them.”
Hexxie lives in the three-bedroom home with his partner, Amy, 31, their two young sons, a smaller snake named Monty and Shiloh, the family Husky.
Hobbs says he would not bring Hexxie, who lives in the living room, out when his sons, ages 1 and 4, are around.
“I would only do it while they were in bed or another room,” he said. “I don’t think she’d be dangerous towards them, but you have to use your common sense and I’m a responsible pet owner.”
He said the closest Hexxie has ever come to attacking him was when he had to apply iodine to a skin infection.
“She went for me. Not properly — more of a ‘back off, get away’ type of thing. She’s nipped but she’s never latched on,” said Hobbs.
“Her mouth is full of hundreds of pin-shaped teeth like fishhooks,” Hobbs said. “If she gets hold of you, you cannot pull your hand out because all the teeth are going the wrong way.”
Tegu Turmoil: New Florida Law Allows Giant Reptiles To Be Killed
MIAMI, FL – No one would ever accuse them of being cute. But lizard lovers say the tegu, a reptile native to Argentina, is intelligent, has loads of personality and can even be trained to do tricks like a dog.
Therefore, Floridians who tout the traits of tegus aren't happy about the new Florida law allowing them to be trapped and killed on public lands.
Signing the bill into law this week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared war on tegus, pythons and lionfish, all nonnative species that are now thriving in the wilds of Florida.
There's a good reason to eradicate wild tegus, said officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The black and white species of lizard, which can grow up to four feet long, is carnivorous, dining on bird and reptile eggs, frogs, lizards, snakes, rats and insects.
"The problem is these large lizards compete with and feast on our native wildlife," said Kristen Sommers, who leads the agency's Wildlife Impact Management Section.
Of particular concern is the tegu's appetite for gopher tortoise eggs and the eggs of the rare American crocodile, both of which are federally protected.
Environmentalists fear that, as their population in the wild grows, they'll decimate the gopher tortoise population.
The problem is tegus reproduce quickly, laying as many as 35 eggs at a time. Since they were first imported to Florida in 2002 by exotic pet vendors, escaped tegus have quickly established breeding populations in Miami-Dade, Broward, Polk and Hillsborough counties, according to FWC Commissioner Richard Hanas.
"One of our priorities is to conserve our native species and protect them from the threat of invasive species," said Hanas. "We need to do whatever we can to meet that challenge."
That includes declaring open season on the giant lizards just as the state has done with the nonnative Burmese python.
In 2017, Florida began allowing Burmese pythons to be killed any time of the year on 22 state wildlife management and environmental areas. Both traps and firearms can be used, and there is no bag limit.
Now the same fate awaits wild tegus.
This saddens licensed tegu breeder Laura Roberts, owner of Your Tegu in Sanford.
"I'm conflicted," she said. "I agree that we need to protect the gopher tortoise and I know something has to be done to keep the tegu population in check. But I'm not happy about tegus being hunted and killed."
Roberts was introduced to tegus by her reptile-loving 10-year-old daughter, Lacey, in 2006.
"They weren't readily available back then but she wanted one so we searched until we finally found one for her," Roberts said.
Roberts didn't expect that she'd become equally enamored with the giant reptiles.
"They make great pets," she said. "They're very smart and can be very affectionate. We kept our first tegu on our screened porch but it figured out how to use the cat door to get into the house. It would sit on the couch and watch TV with me."
Although she can't provide any proof, she said it's common knowledge among tegu breeders that the population of wild tegus in the Miami-Dade area came from a breeder who had inadequate housing, allowing some of his tegus to escape into the wild where they began breeding.
She said the breeding colony in Polk County was reportedly started by a negligent breeder who intentionally released tegus he felt were inferior breeders.
Nevertheless, licensed St. Petersburg trapper Dave Lueck, who had a pet tegu as a child, said he'd never guess wild tegus were a problem in Hillsborough County.
Lueck's license gives him the authority to trap nonnative species that pose a nuisance, including the tegu. But he said it's been more than two years since he was called to trap one.
"We don't have as big a problem in Tampa Bay as they do down south, probably because we occasionally get freezes here that keep the population down," he said. "But of all the nonnative species I'm called to trap, tegus are at the extreme bottom of the list of problems I see in this area."
Last year,100 wild tegus were trapped in Hillsborough County while more than 1,200 were captured in Miami-Dade County, according to the FWC.
Lueck is committed to relocating the native species he traps, such as coyotes, bobcats, otters, raccoons and native snakes, to conservation areas where they can't pose a problem. However, Florida law prohibits him from releasing nonnative species back into the environment.
Therefore, the only alternatives for trapped tegus is to kill them or find someone to adopt them, he said.
Roberts would prefer to see wild tegus placed in wildlife sanctuaries or adopted into homes.
"We have four tegus that were caught in the wild in south Florida," she said. "I have a friend who traps them and relocates them to pet homes. Even if they've been living in the wild, they can be easily domesticated and make good pets. I've had iguanas that were more aggressive than tegus."
The declaration of war on tegus has proven more controversial than the one on Burmese pythons.
A post about tegus on the FWC Facebook page elicited nearly 250 comments from people on both sides of the debate.
While Roberts said there are good points on both sides of the issue, she bristles when someone claims tegus should be eradicated because they are a threat to cats and small dogs.
"I've never heard of a tegu eating a dog or cat," she said. "My tegus have never bothered my dogs or cats. They're predators and tegus don't prey on predators. I've had iguanas that were meaner and more aggressive."
Barbecue for two recipes
Scale down a garden barbecue with our barbecue recipes for two. Grill up a summer feast with our scrumptious burgers, kebabs, chicken and steak.
Barbecued surf & turf
Light the coals and cook up a feast of lobster served with seaweed butter and barbecued T-bone steak. Does anything say summer better than surf & turf?
Griddled vegetables with melting aubergines
Pack all five of your 5-a-day into one healthy vegan dish. Flavoured with garlic, lemon and herbs, it's delicious griddled on the hob or cooked on the barbecue
French onion cheeseburger
Try a sweet, cheesy take on a burger with this French onion cheeseburger made with gruyère, brioche bun and caramelised onions
Sticky chicken drumsticks & sesame rice salad
This recipe makes a wonderful dinner or lunch on the go. Make sure to chill the rice and chicken as soon as they're cool, then pack into containers
Watermelon & feta salad
Serve this watermelon, feta and mint salad as a side dish at a barbecue or picnic. Bursting with fresh, summer flavours, it’s also two of your five-a-day
Pile up burgers with cheese, guacamole, chipotle, salsa and nachos for a fiery and zingy twist on a cheeseburger. The nachos give added crunch
BBQ corn cobs with comté & herb butter
Make corn on the cobs extra special with a slathering of butter mixed with comté cheese, herbs and chilli, cooked on the barbecue. A lovely summer side dish
Spiced halloumi & pineapple burger with zingy slaw
Pack four of your 5-a-day into these tasty veggie burgers with barbecued halloumi. Wrap in lettuce cups instead of buns for a healthy, low-calorie option
Pork souvlaki with Greek salad & rice
Pair this healthy souvlaki with a rice dish – or if you're cooking on the barbecue, you might prefer a baked potato instead. The salad has three of your 5-a-day
How To Cook Snake Meat
There are a few different ways you can cook snake meat whatever you choose, don't overcook it. It's good in soups and stews, but you can also grill it or bread and deep fry it. Basically, if it's a way you would cook chicken or fish, you can do the same thing with snake meat. However, you cook it, plan to use a good amount of seasoning or condiments for taste.
Eating snake isn't wildly popular in the United States, but if you're into trying an exotic game, you should definitely give it a shot.
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Basque in the Glory of Grilled Whole Turbot
When planning a trip, I know where I am going to eat before any other logistical details are settled. I may not have sorted out a place to stay, or even a plane ticket yet, but I've already mapped out an aggressive and detailed eating itinerary. I hated doing due diligence during my very short-lived career as a paralegal at a DC law firm, but I will put in way too many hours figuring out where to find a really good meal.
This usually works out well for my travel companions, who don't have to worry about eating poorly, so long as they don't mind downing four squares a day and embarking on the odd food-related pilgrimage. This past June saw one of my most ambitious eating adventures to date, when my wife and I traveled to Spanish Basque country on our honeymoon. Ever since I had gotten serious about food, I had wanted to visit the culinary capital of San Sebastián.
I had pintxo routes mapped out, as well as directions for queuing up to reserve the best slice of tortilla in town. Over the course of the next few days, I put my growing dairy sensitivity issues aside in the name of burnished Basque cheesecake, ate more grilled steak than I had in the past five years (full disclosure: don't combine these two in fast succession I overdid it on our last night in San Sebastián and made myself very ill, which was not ideal when I had to shake it off for our final meal in the area: a 20-course lunch at Mugaritz), and jostled for standing room and high-pours of cider.
Throughout all this, the meal that will forever stand out in my memory wasn't in San Sebastián proper, but a few miles up the coast in the fishing village of Getaria, at Elkano.
Getaria is famous for its seafood, and the region's bright, slightly effervescent wine, Txakoli. Elkano is known for being the seafood restaurant in the village, commanding the best of the catch from local fishermen at the docks, which are at most a hundred yards away from the restaurant's famous outdoor sidewalk grill. Every morning, a huge bed of charcoal is lit under the adjustable grates of the grill, so that by lunchtime it's hot and ready for the seafood.
Of the items cooked on this grill, Elkano is best known for its grilled kokotxas (hake "throats" or "jaws"), and whole turbot. Everything is cooked simply, and perfectly. And it has to be, because that is the ethos of the restaurant, put in place by its founding chef, Pedro Arregui: "Buy well and don't ruin it." Use the best product, and don't get in its way.
When you eat their grilled turbot, all of this becomes clear. The technique that goes into cooking fish this well over charcoal is humbling. I won't ever cook turbot that perfectly, and that's all right. But after standing, watching, and chatting in broken Castilian Spanish (my Italian is of no use when it comes to Basque) with the cooks working that sidewalk grill, I have a slight idea of how to not ruin it.
The basic principle of grilling whole turbot in the Elkano style is simple. A whole fish, weighing as little as one kilogram and going up to 2.5 kilograms, is seasoned with salt, placed in a specially designed metal fish basket called a besuguera, and set on the grill close to the coals. I tracked down a couple of these fish baskets while in Getaria (the ones I got aren't perfect for turbot, and should be a little wider), but haven't been able to find them here in the States yet.
A more traditional fish basket, like the one pictured above, will work just as well. Either way, the coals should be at moderate heat—not at their peak intensity—so as not to burn the skin of the turbot.
Being a flat fish, turbot is well-suited for the grill, as each side cooks relatively evenly (although one cooks faster than the other, more on that in a second).
And with no scales to worry about, there isn't a lot of pre-grilling fussing about to be done the fish should be already gutted by your fishmonger*. The turbot is grilled on its dark-skin side first, for 4 minutes (all timing is based off my conversation and observation with the grill cook at Elkano). The dark side is the one with the turbot's eyes, and the fillets on this side of the spine are much thicker.
*If you cannot order a whole turbot from your fishmonger, we recommend you order turbot online from Browne Trading Company.
The fish is then flipped over, white-skin-side down, and cooked for another 4 minutes. This is the side of the fish that is in contact with the ocean floor as the turbot swims around looking for Cantabrian anchovies to snack on. While cooking the light side, the dark side gets doused with a simple vinaigrette, the recipe for which is a guarded secret at Elkano, even from the cooks—it is prepared every night by one of two people who know the process, after the rest of the staff has gone home for the evening. It is known as "Lourdes water," but, for our purposes, I use a simple olive oil and white wine vinaigrette in a 3:1 ratio.
This vinaigrette keeps the skin of the turbot from drying out as it cooks, and later becomes a sauce that will be spooned over the fish. After the 4 minutes are up on the white side, the fish gets flipped over one final time, and finishes cooking on the dark-skin-side for another 4 minutes, resulting in a 12-minute total cook time. As with the previous flip, the white side now gets a heavy dose of vinaigrette, before the turbot is taken off the grill and transferred to a serving platter.
Now the magic happens. Turbot are rich in collagen, which turns to gelatin when subjected to temperatures over 122°F (50°C). This gelatin is trapped under the skin during cooking, causing the skin to blister and puff up in spots, while keeping the flesh succulent and rich.
Once you begin to carve the fish into fillets, gelatin-rich juices from the turbot mix with the dressing (the remainder of which has been poured over the turbot), and with a little coaxing, this mixture can be emulsified into a beautiful, thick sauce, reminiscent of pil pil (a popular preparation for those kokotxas I mentioned earlier).
At the restaurant, this filleting and sauce-building are done tableside. After plating fillets and both light and dark pieces of skin (which taste slightly different), the service captain tilts the serving platter so the turbot juices and the Lourdes water pool at the bottom of the platter.
Using a spoon and a nifty rapid stirring technique similar to the motion used for butter-basting a steak, the sauce is quickly formed and spooned over the fillets.
I was able to easily replicate this step myself, and filleting the fish couldn't be easier. Simply separate the fillets down the center of the fish (you can use a butter knife, or if you are strapped for tools, a fish spatula will work just fine), remove the spine, and then separate the other two fillets.
You could stop there, or follow the guidance of the Elkano staff, and go to town on the meat around the fins with your hands. This meat is incredibly delicious, like the chicken wing of the turbot.
Finally there's the head. Let people dig out the cheeks, and gelatinous bits from the head, sucking out every morsel of fish. Washed down with some Txakoli, you'll feel just that little bit closer to a trip to Basque country.
Discovering the Open Grill Style
The open grill style is quite popular and allows cooking food from the bottom. Just like on a classic outdoor grill, you will have to flip the food over every few minutes for even cooking.
It is highly recommended to get a grill with a lid, yet most of them have to do these days. This feature provides a series of extra grilling solutions, but it also contains steam and smoke.