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Badger and Crab 9252012
Getty Images / China Photo, Getty Images / Jeremy Woodhouse
Dinner is served

What would you rather eat: barbecued badger or hairy crabs?

By Stephanie Gruner Buckley

Celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright stirred the British press into a flap (translation: frenzy) by suggesting that we cook and serve badgers for supper as an answer to a controversial badger cull in England. Badgers carry tuberculosis and are said to pass it on to cattle—thousands of which were sick and culled last year.

Conservationists oppose the cull because they say it’s cruel (dogs are used), not because badgers are endangered. Dickson Wright, a chef from the BBC2′ no-longer airing cooking show Two Fat Ladies, sees an efficient solution, and offered this helpful cooking tip:

Either make a ham or treat it like port. Baste it properly and marinate it properly and cook it in a casserole.

Some reporters were disgusted, while Queen guitarist Brian May, who protests the culling, said:

I think we should seriously consider eating senseless people like this Clarissa whoever-she-is. She’s obviously outlived her usefulness. I wonder if she would be best boiled or braised.

It’s hard to see what all the fuss is about. People have eaten badgers for centuries and in some countries such as Russia, Croatia and China, they still do. Meanwhile, restaurants are increasingly serving food far less appetizing than badger meat.

Lionfish, a sci-fi-esque invasive species that gobbles up coral reef populations much to the horror of environmentalists, now appears on American and Caribbean menus in filet form and as fritters. Wild swine are barbecued in states like Texas (and in Tuscany) and they’re really ugly.

Consuming lionfish and wild boar is part of a growing trend: eating invasive species to keep numbers in check, which is exactly what Dickson Wright was getting at.

There’s even an invasive species cookbook and an invasive species restaurant called Miya in New Haven, Connecticut where you can eat lionfish and wild seaweeds and an Asian shore crab, which the restaurant’s owner Bun Lai says “tastes like a cross between a blue crab and Doritos.”

What’s one culture’s invader is another culture’s delicacy. Take the Shanghai hairy crab. Native to Asia, they’ve been invading Europe for years where they’re considered an invasive pest that destroys fishing nets and dams. The Chinese, horrified to discover Europeans were using their beloved crabs as animal feed, have offered to eat them instead.

But back to badgers, which are really less an invader than an irritant. Compared to hairy crabs, they sound downright delicious.