First I should preface this rant with saying it’s 5 o’clock in the morning when I’m writing this and I’m fully aware of hot batshit insane it sounds. With that said I’ve had a lot of things flood my mind lately right as I’m trying to sleep, this has been the number one more prevailing thought. Lord knows why, I think I need help.
I was scrolling through Reddit, and happened upon a story that detailed the series of events that lead to the proliferation of an invasive hippo population in Colombia. Long story short, Pablo Escobar had a private zoo at one of his properties that featured a variety of imported African megafauna; when he died the powers at be relocated nearly all of the displaced animals except the four hippos who seemed to be thriving in the Colombian waterways. These hippos, left unattended went from four to nearly 50 over the past few decades. Not only is an invasive species with this rate of growth dangerous to the unique ecology of Colombia, but hippos are huge and dangerous. They have the highest rate of human fatalities and can run along the bottom of the river. So now Colombia’s got a hippos problem, and also dicked themselves over by getting attached and made them illegal to hunt.
My initial response to this news was 1) those hippos are living their best lives and I want to see each and every one of them succeed. Followed by 2) I wonder what hippo bacon tastes like?
My thought is it would still be fatty and marbled, but how much more gamey would it taste, and how big of a slab could you smoke at a time. I feel like this isn’t too weird of a conclusion to draw; a community is given through bizarre circumstance, a new resource that happens to thrive in their environment, how could they possibly manage ad harvest this resource for the benefit of the community? Thus my obsession with hippo bacon.
However, I’m not the only person in history to be captivated by the thought of sweet hungry hungry hippo meat. In 1910 a Louisiana congressman Robert F. Broussard attempted to introduce the “American Hippo Bill” to the House of Representatives which proposed an allocation of $250,000 of federal funding to import hippos from Africa to the marshes of Louisiana as a new ranching livestock to solve the American meat shortage and to eat the invasive plants that were blocking waterways. However Broussard’s and my dreams of Cajun style hippo chops will never be actualized because the bill did not come to pass. Now I’m haunted by the culinary and cultural potential of an alternate American history rooted in generations of hippo farmers.
Now hold onto your belts because here’s the twisty thoughts that keep me up at night. Would hippo bacon be kosher or not? Would it be unkosher for the same reasons bacon is unkosher? Would it get a pass since it technically isn’t pork? There’s got to be a lot of respect in hippo ranching, I already have the utmost admiration for those anonymous brave men and women on the front lines keeping their families safe from hippos on a regular basis.