Young and Hungry

Where Did That Iguana Come From?

One of the highlights from last night's Capital Food Fight was a cook-off between celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern using iguana as an ingredient.

But where did the lizard come from? None other than Victor Albisu, the former BLT Steak chef opening Taco Bamba this fall.

Albisu, who worked with the event's organizers to come up with the secret ingredient, says he got the iguana from Plaza Latina, the Latin market his mother owns in Falls Church. Turns out the reptile, known as garrobo in Spanish, is common in El Salvadorian cooking. Plaza Latina sells about 10 a week for $100 a pop.

Think that's a lot? Bites of the iguana were auctioned off for $1,000 at Food Fight. For those who didn't have the cash to taste, Victor gives this description: "It tastes like chicken but a little chewier." The tough meat is typically used in stews and ideally needs to cook for several hours—not 10 minutes.

Despite his familiarity with preparing iguana, don't expect Albisu to be serving it anytime soon. Taco Bamba will not have iguana tacos.

Photo courtesy Victor Albisu

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