The possibilities for topping a pizza are endless. I bet you thought a meat lover's pizza with pineapples, anchovies and clams sounded pretty adventurous. But if you stop into Evan's Neighborhood Pizza in Fort Myers, Fla., you can even ask for a python.
And the swamp creature toppings don't stop there. In one bite of something called the Everglades pizza, you may get a chunk of python meat. In the next, a frog leg with the bone in, and in another, maybe a slice of alligator sausage.
This swamp pizza is the brain child of Evan Daniell, owner of Evan's Neighborhood Pizza. He was inspired by the overpopulation of pythons in the Everglades a couple of years back and a local story involving a python and an alligator.
"The overpopulation became a nuisance, so that's what kind of did it for me and there was this article where a python killed a gator then started swallowing it and it ripped open its belly," said Daniell. "They were both found dead. It was an amazing photograph."
The pizza also comes topped with homemade pizza sauce, cheese, swamp cabbage (otherwise known as hearts of palm harvested out of a swamp) and something called Everglades seasoning, something Daniell describes as having a little more pep and spiciness than Old Bay.
Daniell gets all of his meat from certified distributors despite wanting to "tell you we're clubbing our pythons out the back door.... But that's against the law." The 14-inch pizza costs $45. Daniell explained the high cost is because of the python, which costs $66 a pound.
Daniell makes his own alligator sausage by blending chunks of alligator with pork and likes to use the frog legs with the bone in so you can see the bones.
"It's all about the show," he said. "I always tell people before they start eating it, 'eat it very slowly.' You don’t want it to bite you the next day.'"
Daniell started out with a restaurant on the outskirts of the Everglades in 1980. He started Evan's Neighborhood Pizza 11 years ago. He says he's sold about 150 Everglades pizzas since opening but has seen a recent spike in popularity. It's not exactly the next Cronut sensation, but he has had someone ask to ship a pie to Indianapolis for a birthday party.
"It's gone viral," said Daniell. "I expected it to create a conversation, which is a good advertising tool, but really didn't know it would be like this."
The next pizza on Daniell's wish list is something he calls a roadkill pizza, but he's having trouble tracking down a distributor that will supply him with the armadillo, raccoon and possum he'd like to top it with.
"To really throw you off, we want to serve it with a side of squash," said Daniell with a laugh. "You know, like squash... You got to have a little fun with it."
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