Armadillos are shy creatures, and if you were an armadillo you would be shy too, and most of us who have seen one at all have only seen them as roadkill. As far as most people know, the natural habitat of an armadillo is the middle of a blacktop road with a Uniroyal tire tread running down the middle of its back. In reality, most armadillos live a full, active, fulfilling existence — burrowing, hunting for grubs and invertebrates.
Armadillos did not originate from Florida — before 1924 the only armadillos in Florida were in a zoo. In those days Floridians, thinking armadillos were interesting and exotic, wanted to see one for themselves. Be careful what you wish for.
Joshua Nixon, a zoologist specializing in armadillos (my goodness, the careers people have) conjectures that armadillos may even be traveling by train. This is not entirely unheard of. New York pigeons have long been known to commute by subway. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine an armadillo dashing alongside a moving box car and leaping on. Parenthetically, Nixon lives in Michigan, which is about as far from where the armadillos are as you can get, which ought to tell you something.
Armadillos are harmless unless you are an insect or an invertebrate, or unless you’re a plant growing on top of where an armadillo thinks there might be insects or invertebrates, or unless you have a yard.
Fortunately, armadillos are edible. I have appended an actual recipe below. I don’t know what armadillo tastes like, never having eaten it. Normally, outré entrees are compared to chicken, but I could not find a single Internet reference comparing armadillo to the taste of chicken. This may be a warning.
Check out the recipe below. Sounds almost good enough to eat, doesn't it? Unfortunately, The New England Journal of Medicine has linked eating armadillo meat to leprosy in humans. But — that is only if you eat it frequently, and, after all, how many nights a week are you going to eat Armadillo au Vin anyways?
Armadillo Au Vin
Ingredients: 1 1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
1/4 cup butter
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 armadillo, cleaned and cut into serving pieces
1 1/4 cup light cream
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Directions: Mix all ingredients of marinade and add armadillo. Marinate about eight hours, turning meat occasionally. Remove armadillo and reserve marinade. Melt butter in deep skillet and brown armadillo pieces.
Pour in marinade and bring to a boil. Stir in seasoning, cover and simmer until tender (about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.) Remove skillet from the fire and place armadillo pieces on a warmed platter. Mix mustard and cornstarch, then mix in cream.
Return skillet to low heat and stir in this mixture a little at a time. Stir sauce until hot, but not boiling, and thickened. Pour sauce over armadillo. Serve with steamed rice.