BAYAWAK (Monitor Lizard) Tastes Like Chickin’

We heard it often enough.

People in Louisiana, along the Gulf of Mexico, eat alligator meat and say, “It tastes like chikin'”

An adventurous eater who has partaken on snake meat says essentially the same. “There is no fat and it is extremely lean and tender. Tastes like chicken, only better! After trying snake, you’ll surely be back for more.”

Here’s my semi-personal experience on this subject.  A couple of years ago, my brother Louie bought a bayawak (monitor lizard) from a hunter coming out of the Sierra Madre Mountains of Luzon. He e-mailed me a picture of it, see.   Notice the reputed long neck, the powerful tail, the fearsome limbs.

Far out! I’d say.  Amazing that a dinosaur-like creature still moves in our world of computers and smartphones and virtual reality.

Do you know why they are called monitor lizards? Go on, take a guess…

Well, since you seem to have given up, I’ll tell you.  They’re called monitor lizards because they like to stand on their hind legs and look around… to monitor their surroundings, ha-ha-ha !



Tatoo artist Frank Ibanez, Jr. of Manila
has created this custom design showing
a Philippine lizard (bayawak,tuko),
Philippine waves, and a Philippine sun.
Tattoo was done in 10 hours

Known as bayawak in the Philippines, they are called biawak in Malaysia and some parts of Indonesia, binjawak / minjawak in Java.

And what is the end of Louie’s encounter with the monitor lizard?  I don’t want to visualize how he slaughtered the huge, poor thing, but the summary report I received was, “It tasted like chicken.”

Finally, here’s a 16th century account by Antonio Pigafetta, historian of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan:

       In this island of Gatighan are a kind of birds called Barbastigly
      (Venetian word for flying fox or large bats genus Pteropus
      that feeds on fruits),  who are as large as eagles. Of which we killed
       a single one, because it was late,  which we ate, and it had the taste of a fowl.


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