Bangkok, Sep 9 (efe-epa).- Thai food lovers have discovered a tasty and exotic addition to their diverse menu: a roadside barbecue food stall whose proprietor, a crocodile farm owner who once faced near-certain bankruptcy, has reinvented himself by sizzling the reptiles' meat on charcoal grills to great popular acclaim, as can be seen in images released by epa on Sunday.
Sitthichai Penchart sells inexpensive, freshly-grilled skewers and whole roasted crocodiles, attracting hundreds of hungry visitors seeking to experience a unique dish every day to his stall next to the Taweechai crocodile farm in the western Thai province of Ratchaburi.
"I've owned this farm and have been breeding crocodiles for the past 15 years," Penchart told epa. "When the economy worsened, my business was facing problems and I was losing a lot of money."
"Until one day, I tried to eat crocodile meat and found out it was delicious," he added.
Penchart tested different recipes until he discovered the best way to cook and season the tender, mild-flavored meat (which, many consumers swear, "tastes just like chicken" – a phrase that has by now become a well-worn cliché).
He said that people were at first reluctant to try the unfamiliar food; but eventually, word-of-mouth spread throughout Thailand and he now dispatches 700-800 kilograms (1,540-1,760 pounds) of the delicacy per day.
The long lines at his stall also attest to the fact that many customers flock there with a strong desire to take selfies alongside the luckless reptiles slowly broiling on rotating spits in order to later share the unusual pictures on social media.
Crocodile meat is considered a healthy and nutritious alternative to pork or chicken, as it contains less fat, lower cholesterol levels and a higher proportion of protein than the aforementioned animals.
It is purported to provide health benefits for the heart, improve blood circulation and alleviate respiratory illnesses, as well as several other diseases.