Delicious Nutria

Camilla Mortensen’s roadkill cuisine article (Nov. 21) was great, thoroughly researched, except for: “Please don’t tell me to eat nutria!” which betrayed deep ethnocentrism, I am sorry to say. As noted, nutria are considered an invasive species in Oregon (and elsewhere).

Well, the species was introduced for three reasons: they have soft fur; they breed like fury; they’re delicious, which is perhaps why the guy who marketed the creatures called them “nutria” — the Spanish for otter — instead of using the Spanish/indigenous name “coypu.” I can vouch for the veracity of all these reasons. 
  Because of reason two they became regarded as invasive. Because they are a rodent, albeit a large one, the third reason hasn’t caught on in the US. 

But for those who don’t eat meat for ecological reasons, what’s the problem? 

Generally you’ll hear something like “I can’t see eating a giant rat!” Rest easy! They are not closely related to rats, but to capybaras, the largest living rodent, and like every species in that group I’ve had the chance to try when in South America, they are delicious

And they’re adaptable to a wide range of recipes. I’ve had ecologically inspired vegetarians say they’d never tasted any meat so tasty ever in their life when I barbecued a young one caught on a Santa Clara organic farm, marinated overnight for a patriotic Fourth of July barbecue.

Rick Valley


Editor’s note: Camilla Mortensen is more likely to eat roadkill tofu than anything else.