After cruising the back roads of Hagerman in a pickup truck with Leo Ray, owner of aquaculture company Fish Processors Inc., we finally pulled up to his much-buzzed-about alligator pond. As I soon learned, Ray has rigged up a way to recycle the geothermal water and fish scraps from his warm-water catfish and tilapia farms so he can also keep a handful of gators warm and happy-snappy. Once fully grown, Ray sells that gator meat to a few restaurants—including the nearby Snake River Grill in Hagerman.
After seeing the snouts of those creepy beasts peeking out of the pond, I knew I'd have to passively exert my food-chain superiority and order up a plate o' gator. Snake River Grill, with its cozy, small-town, burger-and-steak vibe and friendly service proved to be the ideal spot to wade into the murky waters of gator consumption. Seated at a small wooden table near a large family chatting merrily and drinking wine mid-afternoon, I ordered up a plate of cornmeal-battered alligator poppers and a glass of red wine to ease my anxiety. The gator turned out to be reminiscent of a sea-tinged combo of stringy Marlin and dark chicken thigh meat. The gator's fishiness was a little much on its own, but sprayed with lemon and dunked into the accompanying fry sauce, it was surprisingly delightful. I will definitely be seeing you later, Mr. Alligator.