I once saw Gordon cut up a chicken blindfolded and wondered if he’d ever tried it drunk, on one he’d raised himself from fluff. I’d have left in the bones, like Julia; otherwise, he did a competent job.
Now I’m watching him in waders trailing his son and a snake hunter into a swamp. He’s afraid, and should be, sloshing through the Everglades, dodging dead trees and cottonmouths. Recent hunters of pythons, they will eat anything, including each other.
An old man from Texas told me a story about a playmate who slipped into a canal, how the snakes came en masse to attack her. Bit twenty times, she died.
In Florida, Fish and Wildlife Conservation tests python for toxicity, noting how they collect mercury in their flesh, naturally occurring, trickling up the food chain: that hasn’t stopped YouTubers from recommending pressure cooking, contriving recipes, heavy on the salt – no mention of testing kits. A child who grew up in the swamp, seven generations, must have immunity; the water a part of him.
Gordon follows the snake hunter, who gets bit (tiny needles spiking into his skin) when grabbing one by the neck – yes, with bare hands. The camera pans to the trees while someone fires shots. Still, Gordon promises a humane death.
The camera fades to a sauce of seventeen ingredients simmering on a camping stove. It doesn’t show the fresh guts, barely glances at Gordon grinding the flesh into mush, but pauses to watch it fry. Wild-caught snake, ancient rooster, over-grown hog – all of them cooked up with bacon by people who ate what they had – now interred in two-bite lettuce boats floating on a platter, snatched by the swollen fingers of the hunter, surprised to find them delicious.