Rats! The other other other white meat!

The rat king!

The rat king!

I like it when they come in bunches; you save by buying in bulk!

For those of you who are not aware, your humble blogger has decamped to the wild wet coast, and is living in an ecovillage several miles outside of the nearest town, which probably has a population similar to the block I used to live on in Vancouver. We are trying to live off the land, which is difficult when the only thing that will grow in the winter is kale, but one does what one can.

One can, apparently eat rats.

This is news which I welcome, for yea, my cabin, lovely and picturesque though it may be, is literally crawling with the buggers. The (insulation-free) zone between the paneling and the exterior wall is their playground, and the corner above my head is their particular favorite spot. I spend a fair bit of each night being startled awake and then punching the wall nearest the disturbance.

So imagine my joy when I stumbled across this delightful recipe. Apparently, in times of duress such as old-timey military sieges, the only reliable source of meat the peasantry could get was rat (the gentry of course had the peasantry for livestock), and during the Franco-Prussian war the following recipe was developed.

Rat Entrecote à la Bordelaise

Alcoholic rats inhabiting wine cellars are skinned and eviscerated, brushed with a thick sauce of olive oil and crushed shallots, and grilled over a fire of broken wine barrels.

Well, that sounds delightful, doesn’t it? They self-marinade! Honestly, this sounds like the best excuse for a theme party I’ve ever heard! Come dressed in rags! Bring your pitchforks, your flintlocks, your long-repressed hatred for the Germans! And I’d bet that burning wine barrels smell amazing; firstly they’re made of proper hardwoods, and secondly the wine would evaporate into the air, giving everyone a second-hand drunk just from breathing.

Apparently rats are having a bit of a moment in the world of cuisine, scuttling out from behind their garbage bins to stand in the spotlight, featured in Foreign Policy and Esquire magazines, among others. The BBC noted it as one of Thailand’s trendiest foods. FP asked artist and post-apocalyptic cuisine fancier Laura Ginn for a handy guide to see if what you’re eating is, in fact, rat. God know, you wouldn’t want to pay for rat and get, say, veal. Perish the thought!

1. It smells like rat. Rats secrete an oil onto their skin that gives them their distinct “rodenty” odor. Some compare the smell to that of a warm tortilla, says Ginn, while others compare it to urine. Regardless, it’s distinctive. While it’s true that the odor lessens after the rat is skinned, and again after the rat is cooked, no amount of cooking can ever completely get rid of the smell.

2. It tastes like rat. The oil rats secrete gives them a distinctive taste as well. Ginn describes it as quite pungent and gamey — most similar to raccoon or rabbit. Blended with other meats, rat becomes a lot less distinctive, so you’d have to be rather discerning to notice it.

3. It tastes delicious when brushed with a moonshine glaze and barbecued. Of all the ways Ginn has eaten rat, this is her favorite preparation. A close second is smoked rat jerky served on brioche French toast. So, if you happen to be savoring a moonshine-BBQ dish, or think there is something slightly “rodenty” about the gamey and delicious jerky you are consuming, you might want to check the ingredients.

4. It looks like lamb. When it’s raw, pinkish/red rat looks very much like lamb. Unfortunately for the Chinese, when ground, rat can look a lot like any generic ground meat. When cooked, rat looks more like rabbit, Ginn thinks, just because of the shape of the cuts.

5. You’re in Asia. According to Ginn, rats are most commonly eaten in Asia because of the rice crop. In areas where rats feed off rice paddies rather than garbage, the rodents are considered safer to eat. Of course, it isn’t clear whether the rats marketed as mutton in China were healthy, rice-fed rats or sewer-dwelling, garbage-eating, Templeton-esque rats. The New York Times reports that the arrest announcement “did not explain how exactly the traders acquired the rats and other creatures.” Rats are also disease carriers, so when Ginn organized her meal she ordered hers from a company that supplies specially raised, grain-fed rodents to zoos.

This woman has actually had rat-centered dinner parties, so when she votes for the entrecote as well, you know it’s the right choice.

From i09 comes a recipe for rat jerky.

Rat Jerky
Created by Yuri Hart and Robert Pugh

Take 15 Rats
1.Take all rats and with a smoking gun, smoker or cold smoker, smoke the rats with hickory until they have a smokey flavor.
2. Season the rats with salt and pepper. Line the rats on a grate with a sheet tray underneath.
3. Set the oven to 280 degrees, place the rats in the oven and cook for three hours, or until rats are crispy on the outside.
4. Let the rats cool, and then pull the meat off of the bodies into bite size pieces.
5. Serve meat at room temperature.

I’m not saying I’m actively planning on doing this. I’m just saying they’d better be bloody quiet tonight if they know what’s good for them. I know a winery or two

rats!

rats!

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