￼￼￼￼￼Smith Journal‘s Chris Harrington interviewed Joe Roman for the winter issue.
Caring for the planet needn’t come at the expense of enjoying its fruits. Or animals, for that matter. Eat the Invaders is a collection of recipes encouraging culinary conservationism by cooking with pests. We asked creator Joe Roman about helping the environment “one bite at a time”.
Are you a conservationist who happens to like food, or a foodie with an environmental conscience? A conservation biologist who loves food. I’ll go miles out of my way to find a good meal, but in the case of invaders you don’t have to: they bring the tastes of Italy, France and Asia right to our back door.
What’s the worst invasive species, conservation-wise? Felis catus, the domestic cat, which kills millions of native birds and mammals each year. (And, no, I do not suggest eating them, but trapping and neutering is a good start.) In Australia there’s the Opuntia cactus, which is your pest pear. The list goes on and on, sadly.
What’s your favourite recipe? I love soft-shelled crabs. The European green crab, which has invaded North America, Australia, South america, Africa, and Asia, makes a fantastic meal.
What’s the secret to cooking bullfrog? Grill them. I suggest marinating them first, with olive oil, lemons, parsley, and garlic.
What two invaders go well together? Gather some non-native weeds in the spring and make a salad. Possible ingredients include dandelions, lamb’s quarters, and purslane. This goes well with dandelion wine.
If Eat the Invaders ever successfully eradicated a species – green crabs in Maine, say – would you miss them? I’d welcome the native crabs to the intertidal, and start eating one of the later invaders, the Asian shore crab.
Are your recipes traditional, or your own invention? Both. When we come across a traditional recipe we’ll try it, but I also call up celebrity chefs and foragers to get modern takes on invasives. We also encourage readers, our citizen ‘invasivores,’ to post recipes.