The Chinese are a fascinating people enshrouded in a cloud of mystery. Many Westerners theorize over their Eastern neighbor’s eating habits. Some speculate that the Chinese eat dogs and cats, while others claim that the Chinese devour live babies. The latter is mere hogwash, although the first two beliefs do hold some merit.
Regardless, what we do know for certain is that some members of the Chinese populace love to dine on rat meat… mmm mmm delicious!
Our story begins in the city of Guangzhou, which lies in the center of Guandong Province and is in fact the third largest city in China. Known as a “key transportation hub and trading post,” Guangzhou features a plethora of exotic restaurants that cater to everyone’s tastes. A brisk walk through downtown Ghangzhou gives one easy access to the likes of Italian pizza, Indian chicken curry, American ribs and, of course, some good ol’ home-made rat meat!
Rat meat is so popular that a single restaurant can easily move 40kg of rat meat per day. Just for clarification, 40kg of rat meat is equivalent to approximately 358 pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins.
According to a local street restaurant employee who spoke with China Daily news, most restaurants are now having to book rat-meals in advance, especially during peak hours. And in preparation for the large number of potential daily clientele that pass through the city, restaurants typically post several cages of live rats on display to “lure diners.” I don’t know about you, but my stomach is rumbling in hunger!
As for procuring suitable rat meat, most restaurants in Guangzhou turn to Zhanjian city, which according to anonymous restaurateurs hosts a large selection of “field mice.” Added to that, one kg of quality rat meat costs only 15 yuan, allowing restaurant operators to earn approximately 35 yuan ($5) per pop.
“But why would anyone eat rat meat?” you ask. For one, it can be braised in soy sauce, cooked in soup, roasted or even stewed. All these options translate to a variety of different tastes—it’s like having fried chicken on Monday, roasted chicken on Tuesday and grilled chicken on Wednesday.
Plus China Daily reports that “many local residents believe in an old saying: ‘A rat equals three chickens in term of nutrition.’” In addition, some claim that rat meat can magically alleviate the symptoms of old age, such as baldness or gray, thinning hair.
The best answer comes from an unnamed vendor interviewed by MSNBC news. He said, “Guangzhou people are rich and [so they] like to eat exotic things.”
I guess that in China, eating rats is merely the high price of fame and fortune.