Calvin W. Schwabe in his book Unmentionable Cuisine (Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 1979, available from Amazon Books), says that North Americans should be using many forms of protein which are routinely consumed in other parts of the world. The following exerpts are from a section of the book giving recipes for cooking rats and mice.
"Brown rats and roof rats were eaten openly on a large scale in Paris when
the city was under siege during the Franco-Prussian War. Observers likened
their taste to both partridges and pork. And, according to the Larousse
Gastronomique, rats are still eaten in some parts of France. In fact, this
recipe appears in that famous tome.
Grilled Rats Bordeaux Style (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.
What won't the French do next?
In West Africa, however, rats are a major item of diet. the giant rat (Cricetomys),
the cane rat (Thryonomys), the common house mouse, and other species of rats
and mice are all eaten. According to a United Nations Food and Agricultural
Organization report, they now comprise of over 50 percent of the locally
produced meat eaten in some parts of Ghana. Between December 1968 and June
1970, 258,206 pounds of cane-rat meat alone were sold in one market in
Accra! This is a local recipe that shows the South American influence on
West African cuisine.
Stewed Cane Rat
Skin and eviscerate the rat and split it lengthwise. Fry until brown in a
mixture of butter and peanut oil. Cover with water, add tomatoes or tomato
purée, hot red peppers, and salt. Simmer the rat until tender and serve with
Stuffed Dormice / Ancient Rome
Prepare a stuffing of dormouse meat or pork, pepper, pine nuts, broth,
asafoetida, and some garum (substitute anchovy paste.) Stuff the mice and
sew them up. Bake them in an oven on a tile.
Roasted Field Mice (Raton de campo asado) / Mexico
Skin and eviscerate field mice. Skewer them and roast over an open fire or
coals. These are probably great as hors d'oeuvres with margaritas or "salty
Farley Mowat also gives this innovative arctic explorer's recipe for souris
à la crème.
Mice in Cream (Souris à la crème)
Skin, gut and wash some fat mice without removing their heads. Cover them in
a pot with ethyl alcohol and marinate 2 hours. Cut a piece of salt pork or
sowbelly into small dice and cook it slowly to extract the fat. Drain the
mice, dredge them thoroughly in a mixture of flour, pepper, and salt, and
fry slowly in the rendered fat for about 5 minutes. Add a cup of alcohol and
6 to 8 cloves, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Prepare a cream sauce,
transfer the sautéed mice to it, and warm them in it for about 10 minutes
Sounds like a gourmet's survival meal to me.
Collected by Bert Christensen