Are you wild? Wild enough to eat chocolate-covered scorpions and crickets? If you are, Jungle George's Amusements will be serving up a variety of exotic meats and animals for you to try at the 101st South Florida Fair next week.
This will be the rare and exotic food vendor's second year at the fair, and they're ready to serve you whatever crazy critter eats your stomach can handle. What started as a weird attraction that would deliver that "wow" factor quickly became a profitable business for owner "Jungle" George Sandefur, who started his exotic meat and food truck trailer several years ago. Since then, he's travelled the country serving up all manner of miscellaneous meat.
How does one start an exotic meat business? About four years ago Sandefur, a California resident, said he was challenged to eat some bizarre foods at the California State Fair. Never one to shy away from the unusual, he obliged -- and a business idea was born.
"We started [Jungle George's serving just] alligator meat, and it went so well we went ahead and did a full exotic meat truck," Sandefur told Clean Plate Charlie. "It's more like a fear factor than anything else. People dare each other, compete with each other. And some people just like the other stuff."
The most popular menu item is the "maggot melt sandwich," a combination of beetle maggots, cheese sauce and onions for $7. The beetle larvae come from an insect farm in California, and are USDA approved for consumption. Sandefur said he goes through thousands -- about 28,000 at both the California and Colorado state fairs, to be exact -- and expects to do a similar business here in South Florida.
Aside from maggot sandwiches, Jungle George's insect menu is the equivalent to the deep-fried Oreos and chocolate-covered candies you'd get from other fair vendors, only here you can order baked insects like ants, scorpions and crickets ($4 to $5). They come in candy flavors like green apple, dipped in chocolate, or -- for the truly adventurous -- baked for that extra-crispy, flavorful crunch.
In addition to a menu dedicated to bugs, there's also a variety of truly exotic meats like elk, raccoon, yak, kangaroo, black bear, ostrich, llama -- even beaver on a stick. It's all fairly priced between $7 to $8 for a burger or sandwich. A rack of alligator ribs is the most expensive menu item at $15, followed by rattlesnake for a $9 burger.
This year look for alligator and kangaroo bites, small chunks of meat battered and fried like popcorn chicken, said Sandefur, as well as his newest product, camel burgers. And don't worry about trying it all in one shot. Sandefur also sells exotic meats through his website, which means if you taste something you like -- or see something you want to try -- you can order some for a taste of the fair any time you get the craving.
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