What is the Frog?
Generalities on the frog
Rana is, in common parlance, the name of some amphibious animals that live near the freshwater streams such as ponds, rubble, lakes, canals, rivers and streams.
Contrary to what many people think, frog meat is an excellent nutritional source. Rich in essential amino acids, specific vitamins and minerals, the frog belongs to the first fundamental food group.
In Italy but not only (eg in France), frogs are considered edible and, moreover, also very valuable foods. However, it must be specified that the frog as a culinary ingredient is not accepted by all culinary cultures. It is particularly used in the Po valley while elsewhere, as in most of the south, eating frogs is considered a disgusting attitude.
In zoology, Rana constitutes a genus of belonging in its own right; many other creatures indicated as frogs (for example "the green frogs"), of the same Family, are today differently grouped.
The frog is currently a creature whose declining population density suggests a high demographic risk. For this reason, the frogs available on the market come essentially from foreign farms.
Nutritional Characteristics of the Frog
Nutritional characteristics of frogs
The frog is a product that belongs to the first fundamental group of foods (foods rich in proteins with high biological value, specific vitamins and minerals (such as some water-soluble from group B and iron).
The frog is a low-calorie food, whose energy essentially comes from proteins; lipids and carbohydrates are almost absent. Peptides are of high biological value, therefore rich in essential amino acids in the right quantities and proportions. Frog meat contains little cholesterol; it is free of fiber, histamine, lactose and gluten. From the vitamin point of view, the concentrations of thiamine (vitamin B1) and niacin (vitamin PP) stand out. As far as mineral salts are concerned, the levels of phosphorus and iron are of great importance.
The frog lends itself to any diet, including nutritional therapies for overweight and metabolic diseases. It has no contraindications for lactose, histamine and gluten intolerance. For its richness in iron, it would be an excellent ingredient in the diet against anemia.
Totally unsuitable for vegetarian and vegan diets, the frog is also considered a non-kosher and non-halal food, it is therefore prohibited by the Muslim and Jewish religions. It is not even admitted by Hinduism and Buddhism.
The average frog portion is about 100-150 g (60-95 kcal).
Nutritional values per 100 g
|Simple sugars||0.0 g|
|Vitamin A equivalent||0, 0μg|
|Lutein Zexanthin||0, 0μg|
|Vitamin A||0.0 IU|
|Thiamine or vit B1||0.16 mg|
|Riboflavin or vit B2||0.06 mg|
|Niacin or vit PP or vit B3||1.20 mg|
|Pantothenic acid or vit B5||- mg|
|Pyridoxine or vit B6||1.20 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.8 mg|
|Vitamin K||0, 0μg|
Frog in the Kitchen
Gastronomic hints of frogs in the kitchen
As anticipated, frog meat is particularly appreciated in the Padan territories. The body is peeled, gutted and decapitated (also deprived of the front legs); the lower limbs (frog legs) are of great importance.
Did you know that ...
Many believe that the Italian recipes based on frog originated in the triangle between Novara, Vercelli and Pavia, then south west of Milan; however this is only partially true.
The areas most colonized by frogs are the marshy areas. The Italian marsh area par excellence is the one affected by the bed of the river Po, not so much near the source, but rather close to the mouth, where the delta occupied the whole area between the present Modena area, the Alto Polesine and the Ravenna. Archaeological findings indicate that, at the edge of these areas, the development of primitive human communities was significant; not for nothing the consumption of frogs, which in most of the other Italian territories was gradually abandoned, remained unchanged here until the 20th century.
Before cooking, frogs must be deprived of their heads, viscera and skin. This traditionally very bloody procedure (frogs should be killed and skinned with a single gesture) is always applied by traders before the sale.
The most famous frog-based recipes are three:
- Fried frogs: floured or in batter (with parsley), they are traditionally cooked in lard or more recently in oil
- Frog risotto: without tomato
- Stewed frogs: with tomato.
The frog is also very popular in the kitchen of China, Indonesia, Slovenia, Croatia, Spain, Albania, Greece, some states of the USA, some countries of the Caribbean, India and Britain.
Did you know that ...
In many areas of the world there are toxic or even poisonous frogs.
Product and commercial aspects of the frog
In Italy, the breeding of green frogs is prohibited by the 1979 Bern Convention, in force since 1981. On the national territory, frogs can only be subjected to slaughter.
It is true that, in the areas of greatest consumption, frog meat is not difficult to find; fresh or more often defrosted, frogs are almost ubiquitous in the stalls of itinerant retailers (fishmongers). Frozen, frogs are available at super and hypermarkets, specialized or generic.
The availability of the raw material is therefore guaranteed by foreign importation, in particular from Albania and Turkey. This defines an often inaccessible retail price, which for fresh (or worse thawed) frogs can range from € 20 to € 30 per kilogram. Especially when of considerable size, there are high chances that commercial frogs are of different species from native ones.
In Canada it is forbidden to import fresh, uncontrolled frogs due to the presence of pathogens ( Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Ranavirus ).
It is interesting to note how the frog, from a poor food of the peasant diet, has become a noble product, prized and no longer accessible to everyone.
Did you know that ...
Frog fishing, improperly called "harvesting", is strictly regulated by the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies. Withdrawal is prohibited from October 1st to June 30th, to facilitate reproduction. The catch limit is 5 kg per capita. The use of traps is prohibited, as is nocturnal activity, especially with the use of light sources, and the use of anchors.
Frog fishing is generally carried out using a fixed rod about 5-6 m long. At the end of the line (also large) a bow of red wool or a small ball of tights should be fixed, which the fisherman will make jump on the emerging aquatic plants. The frog, confusing the bait for an insect, will try to devour it by remaining temporarily entangled with its teeth. At this point the fisherman will quickly raise the rod by pulling up the amphibian which, very often, is released almost instantly. Here comes into play the fisherman's physical ability which, chasing the fleeing creature, will have to be faster than her anticipating its movements and catching it in the grass, before it can gain freedom in the water.
Zoology of the frog
Rana is a separate zoological genus of which many species belong. The indigenous who colonize the Italian territory are: arvalis, dalmatina, graeca, italica, latastei and temporaria . Alien species such as kurtmuelleri are also present.
Paradoxically, the frog mostly used as a food, even of the same family, belongs instead to the genus Pelophylax or "green frogs". Among the various, they occupy the national soil above all: esculentus, lessonae and ridibundus .
Did you know that ...
Green frogs should not be confused with funny, but unfortunately more and more rare, "frogs". Of the family Hylidae, genus Hyla and tree species, these creatures are heavily affected by environmental pollution and the impairment of the natural habitat. Bright green in color, famous for being equipped with suction cups that they use to adhere when they jump from a leaf or from one branch to another, they can be found between the vegetation still covered with night dew or during the rains of the warm season. They are not normally used for food purposes.
Dangers for frogs
The demographic population of frogs, but also of many other Italian amphibians, is progressively decreasing; many species are now considered potentially "at risk". This extremely worrying phenomenon is mainly due to the reduction of biological niches and, more generally, of the habitat of the frogs (wet environments). Moreover, even where the watercourses are not lacking, environmental pollution (for example from pesticides), the reclamation of the grassy aquatic areas and the construction of concrete embankments, the relentless presence of predators (especially gray herons and cormorants), the spread of pathogenic diseases (eg kythridomycosis and ranavirus infection) etc.