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RATS--Taste just like chicken?

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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12022...

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  1. At least they are free-range wild rats

    "The field rats which Mr. Tam and his friends hunt are white and brown, with a diet rich in grain and snails."

    Nice ... recipes for rat too
    - GROUND RAT MEAT AND CHILI
    - RAT STEAMED WITH LEMON LEAVES
    - RAT STIR SAUTEED WITH SPRING ONION AND HERBS

    Even a video of rats being caught, prepared and enjoyed along with tips on how to select your rat "slightly chubby rats are the most sought after. A thin layer of fat adds more flavor to the meat and provides a satisfying sizzle when the chunks of rat meat are added to the frying pan"

    I dunno, I'd suspect my boss wasn't fond of me given an assignment like that.

    Kind of sad that people started turning to rat meat because of concerns about bird flu.

    I guess rat would meet two of the Twelve Commandments for Serious Eaters
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/485526

    6. "Better yet, buy food somewhere else: the farmers' market or CSA."

    8. "Eat a wide variety of species."

    Still ... there's the first commandment ....

    1. "Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

    3 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Regarding your #1: My great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, aunts and uncles ate rats and frogs for years in the Chinese countryside when they were hiding from the Japanese army. I'll have to ask my mom what rat tasted like, but it's hard to get her to give me details about that time.

      1. re: Claudette

        Yes, rats are not really a big (or new) deal in my culture. In fact, I will be seeing someone who's eaten rats and will ask him what they taste like.

      2. re: rworange

        OT warning. If I only ate what my grandmother recognized, I wouldn't be lurking around chow.com. She eats very little seafood (tuna from a can and scallops come to mind, nothing else), overcooked beef and chicken, and is "allergic" or doesn't like strawberries, raspberries, and pineapple. My poor mother thought she didn't like steak until she married my father; it was always shoe-leather when she was growing up, and she never knew why it was a special dinner.

        On a recent trip to my octogenarian grandparents' house with my two DS, I decide to have a conversation in hopes that they'll be polite if they don't like lunch. (My 3yo currently eats no meat other than calamari and chicken nuggets.)

        Me: GM tries very hard to serve something we'll like, but if you don't like it, please don't say it's yucky.
        DS(3): I like chicken nuggets.
        Me: We probably won't get chicken nuggets.
        DS(3): I like squid.
        Me: I can assure you we won't get squid.
        DS(5): Why?
        Me: GM doesn't like squid.
        DS(5): Why?
        Me: Well, she's probably never tried it.
        DS(5): Does she like any tentacle food?

        I don't think I'll share this rat conversation with the dear GM ;-)

      3. certain detroit/michigan residents have been eating rats for years...

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musk_rat

        (go to the "history & use by man" section)

        1 Reply
        1. re: mark

          A musk rat seems closer to a beaver than a rat.

        2. Are you sure? Maybe it's chicken that tastes just like rats? Which came first, the chicken or the rat?

          1. People in this country eat possum. A rodent is a rodent.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ML8000

              And an opossum is NOT a rodent. It's a marsupial. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opossum
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodent

              1. re: Allstonian

                I stand corrected. They're still eaten.

                1. re: ML8000

                  Well, many Americans eat squirrels, and they are most certainly a rodent! Maybe that's what MSL8000 was thinking of? Some Americans also celebrate and feast on food such as snails, snakes, alligator, turtles, frogs (if only the legs), and lots of other very strange creatures. So what's so terribly different about rats?

                  In a way how far this country's mainstream has come dietarily may be reflected in our meats of choice: Mild domesticated animals (cows, pigs, lambs and chickens) that do not require any of the dangers or physical hardships asssociated with hunting to put meat on the table.

                  Is America a country of food wimps? '-)

            2. When there is no food and you are poor, you will eat anything. I used to listen to all the junk my dad ate as a student/refugee running away from the Japanese during the war in China. We always seemed to talk about it after some particularly satisfying feasts too, kind of a : "remembering where you came from" thing.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Phaedrus

                Grain of rice - drop of sweat.

              2. We eat rabbit.... I know I'm streching, but are they not from the rodent family?.

                2 Replies
                1. re: currymouth

                  Nope, rabbits aren't rodents either. They're a separate order called lagomorphs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagomorph

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    I stand corrected, Thanks

                2. As long we're discussing the culinary use of rodents...

                  Nutria are an alternate source of protein in Louisiana where they are a pest species. Check out the recipe link at the bottom of this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutria
                  Nutria jambalaya, anyone?

                  Cuy are a delicacy in Peru: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinea_pig
                  Haven't seen them on a restaurant menu here, though.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DiveFan

                    There were reports on the NY boards in the long past about places that served guinea pig in New York though I think these days they have been put out of business or gone deeper underground.

                    1. re: rworange

                      There are currently two Portuguese restaurants that I'm aware of in Westchester County, NY that serve guinea pig (although they call it baby pig). I ordered it once thinking it was pork, and was horrified to see what appeared to be a roasted rat on my plate. Additionally, I have seen them frozen whole in the supermarket (next to the frozen quail).

                    2. re: DiveFan

                      I've had nutria jambalaya at a food festival in NOLA, prepared by Paul Prudhomme. It wasn't bad-- a little gamier than i usually like my meat, but definitely edible.

                    3. Yes, guinea pigs are commonly eaten in the Andean regions of South America. And they are definitely rodents. The first time i ever saw some being sold, roasted, in an outdoor market in Ecuador, I thought they were piglets, which I presume may be how they got their English name.

                      I am told that sailors used to call rats "millers" because they would get into the stores of food on ships and get covered with flour. Calling them "millers" made the idea of eating them a little less off-putting.

                      There's very little rhyme or reason to which animals are considered okay to eat and which aren't. The idea of eating any animal that isn't considered food in your culture, whether rat, lizard, bug, or an animal usually kept as a pet, such as a cat or dog, is likely to be stomach-turning, but this has little or nothing to do with safety or nutritional value.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: jlafler

                        I guess millers make for easy frying.

                        1. re: jlafler

                          Yeah my friend had those little piggies when she was in Peru back in '02. I think she tried it but, maybe not. She'll try that kind of thing but, that was probably too far for her :)

                          1. re: livetocook

                            That trip to Ecuador was back when I was a vegetarian, so I didn't try the piggies. In retrospect I kind of wish I had.

                        2. Obviously the term "rat" is a branding and marketing disaster. To sell it, they just need to rename, rebrand, give it an exotic twist.

                          Call it "souris", or grilled souris with pomegranate reduction and capers and you could sell a lot.

                          If you named the source, such as Soho Souris with New Mexico Pomegranate and Tuscan Capers...you could charge $90 bucks.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: ML8000

                            Totally agree. Definately time to pull out the foreign language dictionary and give it a new name. Think about all the milage that the French got by calling snails 'escargot'.

                            Unfortunately rat translates from English to French as ... rat. However, there is rodent ... rongeur

                            Don't forget on that menu to include breed and origin as in

                            Walt's Farm heritage Bandicoot free-range rongeur with cheese foam on a bed of ratatouille. (need to get playful like all those rabbit dishes that come with carrot sides)

                            Then we need a few food journalists to expound on the equisite flavor and health and environmental benefits of rongeur ... and a tasteful way of the service staff to explain what it is to those customers who have the audacity to ask ... "It is a meat that is common to the country of xxx and seldom served in this country"

                            Eventually the the trend will trickle down to the common folk and before you know it ... McRongeur nuggets with cheddar dipping sauce , rongeur ciabattas or rongeur wrap (which would be more allerative with the word rat).

                            Here's a link to wiki about the different cultures that eat rat and those that don't and why.
                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat#As_food

                            1. re: rworange

                              I used Souris mouse, a much less threatening and petite term.

                              I like Walt's Farm Heritage...that's good...the cheese foam is an elegant touch. Or is that foam da frommage?

                              1. re: ML8000

                                Well, yes, but rats aren't mice. Souris/mouse is a different animal. You can't call it squirrel either, even though that is also a rodent and is eaten in this country. Rat is rat, and unfortunately it's recognizably "rat" in most European languages. Maybe it could be marketed in Japanese - "nezumi" would sell!

                                Also, if you're going to Frenchify "cheese foam" you'd probably have to go with "mousse de fromage." Unless those fancy modern foams get called ecume to distinguish from more traditional mousses.

                              2. re: rworange

                                rworange, rongeur may not yet be de rigueur, but you cite the sneaky tactics that once induced me to order squab :)

                                1. re: rworange

                                  Yeah, like people who will eat calamari, but not squid!