What do penguins taste like?
December 16, 2006 10:39 PM   Subscribe

Kind of a weird question, but... what does penguin taste like?

I'm not asking for speculation, I'm wondering if anyone has really, truly tasted penguin.
posted by pwf to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I can't answer for the flavor, but yes people have tasted penguin.
posted by chairface at 10:57 PM on December 16, 2006

Apparently, like duck.
posted by diamondsky at 10:57 PM on December 16, 2006

"If it's possible to imagine a piece of beef, odiferous cod fish and a canvas-backed duck roasted together in a pot, with blood and cod-liver oil for sauce, the illustration would be complete" source here.
posted by misteraitch at 12:50 AM on December 17, 2006

I had a chance to visit Antarctica at the beginning of this year and I have to admit that the same question popped into my head. There is a section in pages 82-83 of the 2005 Edition of Lonely Planet's guide to Antarctica - I have taken the liberty of typing out some of the parts that may be of interest to you. The second paragraph is the answer to your question, the rest are just fun little tidbits.

"Intrepid gourmets may no longer sample the wild foods of Antarctica, because the Antarctic Treaty's Protocol on Environmental Protection signed in 1991 prohibits even 'disturbing' wildlife except in a life-threatening emergency. Until relatively recently, however, visitors to Antarctica and the peri-Antarctic islands regularly ate the animals and plants they found. ... The Scottish National Antarctic Expedition of 1902-04 enjoyed a Christmas dinner of Penguin a la Scotia, named for the expedition's ship. ... Seal, penguin and whale meat were often consumed on the first Byrd Antarctic expedition (1928-30), says Colonel Norman D Vaughan, the expedition's last-surviving member: 'They all taste quite alike. It is all heavy, black meat, but as long as it's fresh, it's great.' Dr. Phillip G Law, leader of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition from 1949 to 1966 says: 'I have tasted a variety of meats from Antarctic species - seals, penguins, skuas. There is one basic rule of greatest importance when preparing them: get rid of every last remnant of blubber, otherwise the food will have an abominable fishy taste.' ... 'Because of the power pectoral muscles developed for swimming, the meatiest part of the penguin is its breast,' says Law. ' The dense muscle meat resembles ox heart. My favourite recipe is to thinly slice the breast and fry it with a coating of egg and bread crumbs in the fashion of a wiener schnitzel.' ...

Frederick A. Cook, surgeon on the Belgica expedition ... :'It is rather difficult to describe its taste and appearance; we have absolutely no meat with which to compare it. The penguin, as an animal, seems to be made up o fan equal proportion of a mammal, fish, and fowl. If it is possible to imagine a piece of beef, an odriferous codfish, and a canvas-back duck, roasted in a pot, with blood and cod-liver oil for sauce, the illustration will be complete.'

Penguin eggs were also an important part of many Antarctic diets, especially since they keep for up to a year in the natural refrigeration. They are different from hen's eggs, to be sure: the 'white' never sets, even when well-cooked, and the yolk in some species is a bright orange or red."
posted by perpetualstroll at 3:52 AM on December 17, 2006 [3 favorites]

Based on these descriptions, I would imagine it tastes not unlike muttonbird, which has a strong fishy, oily taste. Muttonbird can be purchased, but I guess availablility depends on where you live. I have never seen it in the shops, but my father bought some (legitimately) here in Melbourne, Australia.

In truth, it was interesting to eat, but I wouldn't want it again.
posted by tomble at 6:10 AM on December 17, 2006

Maybe we should ask Penguin Pie?
posted by racingjs at 7:55 AM on December 17, 2006

And as if by magic... :O)

I actually haven't eaten penguin meat, but I have eaten penguin eggs, both fried and in an omelette.

They're quite a bit fishier than hen eggs, with a hint of a kind of straw-y taste which I can never put my finger on, but always reminds me of pet shops. Also, the 'white' stays completely translucent when boiled, so if you peel a hard boiled penguin egg it looks like something out of a sci-fi film - a huge, orange yolk suspended in a ball of clear jelly.

(I should add, before everyone worries that Falkland Islanders are eating penguins into extinction, that I got the eggs from someone with a licence - the Govt. licenses the collection of a certain number of eggs for consumption each year: it's part of the Falkland Islanders' heritage, honest).
posted by penguin pie at 8:50 AM on December 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

Based on those descriptions, it sounds a lot like it would taste like muskrat (I'm from Inuvik - we have a Muskrat Jamboree every year) or whale.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:03 AM on December 17, 2006

Mod note: a few comments removed, question is not "should I eat a penguin?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:57 AM on December 18, 2006

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