April 1, 2009
Would you invite friends over for dinner and secretly serve pieces of rat in a dish that would keep the meat’s identity hidden?
This reminds me of Peter Hessler’s “A Rat In My Soup,” which ran in the New Yorker years ago. In the article, he travels to a city in China’s Guangdong Province that’s home to two well-known restaurants specializing in rat meat. He learns about the tonic property of rat (it’ll put hair on your chest, literally), which is one of the main reasons for its consumption, and what they eat before they end up on your plate (grass and fruit). At the second restaurant he even gets to witness his chosen rat meeting its demise prior to cooking, but that’s rather unpleasant, so I won’t dwell on it. Despite the strangeness of it all, he concludes that rat meat doesn’t actually taste bad. And that’s all I really need to know.
My answer? Hell, yes. I’m sure I’m probably losing a few pals by admitting this, but I’d do it without a second thought (or without much of one). If I chose a heavily seasoned recipe with a bunch of different ingredients, I’m sure no one would notice anything was amiss (and why would they think anything would be amiss in the first place? I’m their friend. They trust me. Mwah hah). Of course, I wouldn’t serve any rat off the street. Just like fine restaurants, which serve farm-raised squab rather than the filthy one-eyed pigeons you see flapping around in the gutter, I’d make sure that my guests had the cleanest, tastiest specimen that money could buy. After all, nothing is too good for my friends!
Yes, but I’m only doing the serving here. Because I don’t care where that rat came from – I don’t care if it’s the finest rat money can buy, imported from the French countryside and wearing a little unisex rat tiara – I’m not touching a rat, and I’m certainly not skinning, gutting and preparing one. Fuck that. So, my answer is yes, I would absolutely serve my friends a rat – that I’d paid someone else to prepare and then shut the hell up about. They’ve eaten grosser stuff.