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Yesterday’s Handbag Is

Today’s Haute Cuisine

If you missed the Cajun cooking craze, stay tuned. A new delight from Louisiana is on its way to your plate: alligator.

San Diego Seafood, a restaurant wholesaler, has been selling Louisiana alligator for three months. “The market is definitely expanding,” said sales manager Phil Garrity.

At Solana Station restaurant in Solana Beach, owner Chuck Dino recently added alligator ravioli to the menu, after being encouraged by the success of his duck ravioli.

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Dino smothers his gator in a lemon pesto sauce. He wanted to call it his “secret swamp sauce,” but decided that might turn off his customers.

“Alligator is a lot like chicken, only a little tougher, a little more veiny,” Dino said. “Once you get past the idea that it’s alligator, you’re in for a treat.”

At Chateau Orleans in Pacific Beach, chef Robert Sanchez uses barbecue sauce for one gator dish, a garlic sauce with green onions for another.

Kermit Kerner, owner of Cajun Connection in San Marcos, takes pride in his highly seasoned sauce piquant.

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“Everybody got the same gator, so it’s the sauce that counts, and we got the best sauce,” Kerner said. “It’s a recipe given to me by an old trapper back in the bayou, where they know best how to marinate their gator.”

Lest you feel environmentally guilty, be assured that the Louisiana alligator has been off the endangered list since 1973. A 30-day hunting season yields half a million pounds of deboned alligator meat a year.

“Without the hunt, the gator is everywhere: swimming pools, golf courses, crossing the road, scaring the children, crawling up on carport driveways,” said Johnnie Tarver, administrator for the fur and refuge division of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries.

“We got a half-million of them that we know of, maybe more,” Tarver said. “They’re what you call a renewable natural resource.”

Tarver was incredulous that alligator is just beginning to be savored in San Diego County restaurants: “What have you people been eating out there all these years?”

Like China, Only Different

The student rebellion continues, with certain regional differences.

In Beijing, the People’s Liberation Army watches as students continue their protest in favor of democracy and the free market system.

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In San Diego, a prosecutor slapped a student with two misdemeanor charges stemming from a protest last month at UC San Diego. Arnie Schoenberg, 22, is charged with resisting arrest and trampling a newly seeded lawn while being chased by a campus cop.

Schoenberg was part of a group complaining that the new Price Center is a crass commercial intrusion into the university setting. Among the businesses at the center is a Chinese restaurant.

A Fitting Tribute

The black-bordered billboard along Interstate 8 near Waring Road says simply: In Memory of James F. Mellody, 1942-1989.

So who was James F. Mellody?

Answer: vice president for public affairs of Patrick Media Group, the firm that owns the billboard. Mellody, who worked in the Scranton, Pa., office, died of a heart attack.

Memorial billboards have been ordered in 32 cities across the country where Patrick owns billboards. “It seemed fitting,” said a corporate spokeswoman.

Chilly Chamber

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Even by the eye-gouging standards of the San Diego City Council, it was an exchange meant to inflict maximum injury.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Bruce Henderson told Councilwoman Abbe Wolfsheimer that he planned to reject her request that he oppose a building project in her district.

He said the last time he followed her advice, the council voted against a hazardous-waste burner atop Torrey Pines Mesa and ended up paying a bundle in damages.

“You have zero credibility,” Henderson said.

“I want to commend you for your manners and your breeding,” said Wolfsheimer, as icicles formed in the council chamber.


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