Have you ever wondered if toads are edible? Well, you’re not alone. Throughout history, humans have consumed all sorts of peculiar creatures in the pursuit of sustenance. From insects to snake meat, our culinary adventures have taken us to some strange places.
But what about toads? These slimy amphibians may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a delicious meal, but believe it or not, there are cultures around the world that have been cooking up these creatures for centuries. So grab your fork and knife as we dive into the intriguing world of eating toads.
Can You Eat Toads?
Some species of toads contain venom in their skin and glands; for instance, Cane toads are known to be highly venomous, and many people have died trying to eat them. Also, some toads are under legal protection, and possessing one such toad can result in legal consequences. So, it is better to avoid eating these hopping critters.
As toad skin contains toxic secretions, their consumption can cause serious, if not fatal, human reactions. In Thailand, two men died after having grilled toad. Also, the children who ate chicken prepared next to it fell ill. Even in China, a farmer got a severe infection after eating a live tadpole.
However, they are consumed in some parts of Australia and Asia as exotic meat. It is safe to eat when correctly prepared by experts. Cane toads, which became highly invasive in Australia, are seen in the menu section of many restaurants. They turned them into a delicacy to curb their population.
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How Do People Prepare Toads?
The preparation process should be done diligently, as toads, like any other amphibians, carry bacteria on their skin, including salmonella. So, we should be cautious to avoid cross-contamination while turning these creatures into dinner.
Generally, people only consume toad legs and the meat on their backs. The rest of the toad’s body, including its skin, is not suitable for human consumption. Like frog legs, toad legs can also be fried, boiled, grilled, steamed, and even used in some Asian salads.
Most chefs freeze toads at the time of death to prevent the release of toxins from their skin, which could contaminate the meat. This precautionary measure minimizes the risk of toxins spreading throughout the body during food preparation.
Once frozen solid, the toad can be washed and defrosted before the skin is removed. Some soak the toad in salt water for several hours before it’s cooked to remove any toxic remains.
Is It Safe To Eat Toads?
Many of us know that frog legs are consumed in many restaurants worldwide, particularly in France. While some people see them as gross, their demand has been increased recently. So, when people can eat frogs, naturally, we wonder about toads.
All toads have glands at the back of their eyes that secret various toxins, which differ between species. So, eating a toad can expose you to these lethal substances, which are strong enough to cause irregular heartbeat of a person, seizures, vomiting, and even death.
Eating a raw toad can cause sparganum infection, viral and bacterial infections, and sometimes even death. So, unnecessarily taking the risk of eating a toad can result in high medical bills or even losing your life.
However, as toads secret different toxins, depending on their species, not all of them can cause reactions. But you have to be sure about the species of the toad before you cook and consume it. Otherwise, you will have to face legal issues for it if you are still alive.
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‘The Colorado River toad‘ is a legally protected species, and possessing them can get you arrested. Also, their toxins are known to contain 5MeO-DMT; hence, their population has drastically declined due to the illegal drug trade of CTNF.
Toads come in all shapes and sizes, but if you use small ones to cook your meal, you will need to use many of them to have a decent meal. As the numbers increase, the risk of getting sick will also increase.
Instead, go to a reputable exotic meat restaurant where an expert chef prepares it after removing the toxins, so there will be fewer chances of poisoning.
What Do Toads Taste Like?
Toad legs are said to have a mild chicken-fish flavor, but as they blend with all the spices and sauces that are used while cooking, they tend to taste more like chicken when boiled or grilled. But they taste more like fish when sautéed or deep fried.
Toad à la carte might sound like something out of a fairytale or a witch’s brew, but the truth is that throughout history, people have been dining on these curious creatures.
From ancient civilizations in China and Egypt to indigenous tribes in South America, consuming toads has been practiced for various reasons – from medicinal purposes to cultural traditions.
Toad meat is considered a healthy protein source in some parts of the world where access to other options is limited. Also, toad legs are said to be high in omega-3 and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Where Do People Eat Toads?
Toads are mostly consumed in Asian countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. They are consumed in some parts of Australia and the United States of America (for survival purposes).
In China, common toads (Bufo bufo) are bred and raised primarily for food. These are comparatively larger in size than the ones we see in the wild. However, preparing toads is not an easy job; it demands certain skills that only a few people possess.
While in Australia, they introduced Cane toads in 1935 to control beetles, which were damaging crops, but now these toads have become invasive, so people in some areas started considering them as food.
In some Australian restaurants, we can see dishes like ‘Cane Toad Burger‘ on the menu. Not to forget the large Asian diaspora there, who wouldn’t mind eating toads. Whereas in Japan, toads are sometimes served raw as sashimi, and in France, toads are sometimes cooked in a wine sauce.
What Animals Eat Toads?
Besides humans, toads are preyed on by various other animals, including water rats, snakes, crows, otters, and black kites. As toad’s skin is poisonous, the predators have developed ways to get rid of it before consuming its inner safe and meaty parts.
For instance, crows flip toads and expose their underbellies, which are toxic. Even otters skin them before consumption. They simply turn toads inside out before eating them to avoid their deadly skin.
Whereas snakes and black kites are known to peck them until they get to poison-free inner flesh. Then, they consume safer parts like the thighs, tongue, and intestines.
Most toads are known to produce toxins to protect themselves from predators. So, it can be dangerous to eat them, particularly for some species of toads. You may get sick or even die just for the sake of an adventurous meal.
Although some survivalists have eaten toads when nothing else is available, consuming toads is risky. Eating live or dead amphibians can be dangerous if you do not know what you are doing.
Finally, there is also the issue of the impact on the environment. Toads play an important role in various ecosystems, and the decline in their numbers in some areas is worrisome as it will have a negative impact on the environment. So, we should be mindful of this when considering whether or not to eat toads.