“Rat meat is a healthy alternative to rice and grains,” Vijay Prakash of the Bihar state welfare department told a press conference in Patna , “and should be eaten by one and all. Rat and chicken have equal food values, not only in protein but throughout the entire spectrum of nutrition. I haven’t tried it myself, but my mother has and she finds it delicious. In fact, whoever has eaten rat says it is more spongy and better than even
The welfare secretary’s words were greeted with dismay by listeners. “Indian culture is based on vegetarianism,” said chef P. Soundararajan of the Mahindra resort chain. “Our culture and customs are based on not harming any living beings. And besides rats are dirty creatures that only the very poor would eat.”
But Prakash was unrepentant about his government campaign. “ Almost 50% of India’s grain stocks are eaten away by rodents in fields or warehouses. Increased human consumption of rodents will ease soaring food prices and provide increased employment for rat catchers. Rat has almost no bones but many people do not know this simple cuisine fact. We will have a massive media campaign to persuade people to try it. Some of the hotels here in Bihar have started selling rat meat, as a starter. If you order patal-bageri at one of our roadside hotels, that’s what you’ll get. Roasted Rat.”
Some interesting facts from the article:
- In Aizawl, one of the 11 districts of Mizoram State in India, smoked rat is a highly prized delicacy. The rodent is much in demand in kitchens in this northeastern state. Hundreds of smoked rats come in to the city from nearby villages every morning. Rats caught by traps in paddy fields sell like the proverbial hot cakes. “I don’t keep records of my sales, but Inormally sell about 200 smoked rats daily,” Lalvenpuii, a New Market shopkeeper, told the Indo-Asian NewsService. “They don’t come cheap either, with one smoked rat costing anywhere between Rs.15-20.” (rupees)
- When food is scarce rats are often a morereadily available source of protein than other fauna. African slaves in the American South hunted wood rats to supplement their food rations. The Aborigines along the coast in Southern Queensland, Australia regularly included rats in their diet. In the Mishmi culture of India, rats are essential to the traditional diet, as the women may eat no meat except fish, pork, wild birds and rats. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that rat meat makes up half the locally produced meat consumed in Ghana, where cane rats are farmed and hunted for their meat.
- In the 1980’s the University of Reading ran a summer school for Rat Catchers. Students from around the globe spent twelve weeks learning the basics of rodent control in the class room and visiting farms around the district baiting, catching and trapping the rodents. They then returned home to pass on their skills to the locals. Today their talents for catching them live are in much demand.
- With the credit crunch biting harder people are considering trying alternative forms of protein. Observer columnists Caroline Davies wrote last year, “It’s low in fat, low in food miles and completely free range.” “In fact, some claim that it is about as ethical a dish as it is
possible to serve on a dinner plate.” No, this time she was not talking of rats but Sciurus carolinensis – the grey squirrel, often known in the country as ‘tree rats’.
- Butcher David Simpson in Cornwall, whose game counter began selling ‘tree rats’ last year, is struggling to keep up with demand, “We put it on the shelf and it sells.”
About the IW&FS (From their website)
The International Wine & Food Society (IW&FS) is the world’s oldest and most renowned gastronomic society. The Society’s mission is the promotion of a broad knowledge and understanding of both wine and food, the enhancement of their appreciation, and the nurturing of camaraderie among those who share the pleasures of the table. The IW&FS is a worldwide organization founded in 1933 by André L. Simon, CBE, Legion d’Honneur (1877-1970), who was renowned as a bibliophile, gourmet, wine connoisseur, historian and writer. In his words, the purpose of the Society “is to bring together and serve all who believe that a right understanding of good food and wine is an essential part of personal contentment and health, and that an intelligent approach to the pleasures and problems of the table offers far greater rewards than the mere satisfaction of appetite.” Simon’s energy and charm ultimately enabled him to generate branches throughout the world so that today there are more than 8,000 members in 150 branches in 40 countries.