Most people will look at an Iguana/Garrobo and say, you eat that thing? Oh yes, you can my friend. People in Central America eat so many. Mothers fed iguana meat to their sick children, as one would chicken noodle soup. It was also said to cure hangovers and to keep the elderly strong. This authentic Neotropical Maya reptile (Ctenosaura similis) is found from Veracruz and Oaxaca in Mexico through Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama), and islands adjacent to Panama. Certain sources suggest presence of the species in Colombia.
The garrobo, in contrast, includes two species: Ctenosaura similis and Ctenosaura quinquecarinata, known respectively as the Black Spiny tail Iguana and the Club Tail Iguana. They are distinguished by thick, scaly tails, and dark bands across the body, though their coloring can also vary from nearly black, to tan, peach, mossy green and grey-blue. The Costa Rican Black Spiny tail holds the Guinness Book of World Records lists running speed of this species at 21.7 mph or 34.9 km/h making it the world’s fastest lizard. And is also considerably larger than the Club Tail, which only grows to a foot in length. The Black Spiny-tailed Iguana has been introduced to South Florida and reproduces in the wild in several feral populations. On the south-eastern Florida coast, Black Spiny-tailed Iguanas have been found on Key Biscayne, Hialeah, and in Broward County.
Naming and identifying different species is very confusing. Locals will often point one out as ‘iguana’, and another as ‘garrobo’, with complete assurance, though the untrained eye might see no obvious difference. So is this just a matter of two names for the same creature, or are they different species altogether? In fact, they are distinct species, though both are called iguana in English, and both belong to the Iguanidae family. The one referred to as iguana in Spanish is the Green Iguana (Iguana iguana). As the name suggests, this full-scale lizard – up to 6ft long! – can sport a distinctive lime-green hue, though Costa Rica’s residents can also be seen in bright rusty tones as well, or graduated shades of green, blue, yellow and orange.
Black Spiny-tailed Iguana are the largest members of the genus Ctenosaura, males capable of growing up to 1.5 meters in length and females slightly shorter at 1 meter (3 ft 3 in). They have a crest of long spines which extend down the center of their back. Although coloration varies extremely among individuals of the same population, adults usually have a whitish gray or tan ground color with a series of 4-12 well-defined dark dorsal bands that extend nearly to the ventral scales. Males also develop an orange color around the head and throat during breeding season with highlights of blue and peach on their jowls.
Source: C. Keogan
El Salvadorean Iguana Soup
*Meathenge visit her here*
1 can o’ iguana sopa
Butter or Margarine (1 pat)
1 tomato (not too big)
1 white onion (I used 1/3)
1 green bell pepper (I forgot to get one, so used a jalapeňo, seeded and deveined)
garlic (1 clove, minced tight)
Cut up the items real small, they won’t take too long to soften for the soup. Melt butter in sauce pan, add onion, garlic and chile pepper. Heat until onion gets translucent and add the tomato, jack heat a bit and simmer for about 5 minutes or so. Add can of soup and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. There were a few really good lumps of brown iguana meat in there. At this point you’re ready to rumble, but if you want a bit more. Cook up a load of El Salvadorean long grain white rice and added a lump in the bowl first, then cover with soup. Mince fresh cilantro, sliced radishes, a squeeze of lime and you’re ready.