If Only Marie Antoinette Had Said, "Let Them Eat Rats!"*


Perhaps the whole unpleasantness of the French Revolution might have been avoided. In any case, Vijay Prakash, the Welfare Secretary in the Indian state of Bihar, according to the BBC, has made just this suggestion:

An official in the Indian state of Bihar has come up with a new idea to encourage low caste poor people to cope with food shortages—rat meat.

The Principal Secretary of the state's Welfare Department, Vijay Prakash, said that he was advancing his proposal after "much survey and ground work".

The Secretary noted:

"Rats have almost no bones and are quite rich in nutrition. People at large don't know this cuisine fact but gradually they are catching up."

Having dined on other rodents–guinea pigs and grey squirrels–I doubt his claim about bonelessness, but what especially caught my attention was the Secretary's assertion:

… that rat meat is not only a delicacy but a protein-enriched food, widely popular in Thailand and France.

France? Perhaps with a meuniere sauce?

Whole interesting solution to the food crisis here.

Kudos to H&R commenter emmajane. 

*I know, I know, I used this trope on the Prince Charles post earlier today, but it just seemed so appropriate here.  


NEXT: Open ANWR Already!

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  1. These look like bones to me, but I have no formal training when it comes to interpreting x-rays.

  2. No wild game qualifies as a “delicacy”. Even so I don’t think hungry people need to be told they can eat rats. I suspect they’re already doing so.

  3. Don’t forget the English:

    “there’s rat cake, rat sorbet, rat pudding, and strawberry tart”.

  4. Yet another brilliant insight from beauracrats. Whats next? Drink swamp water by boiling it?

  5. France is famous for the ever popular ratatouille. Mel Brooks called this one out in History of the World Part I.

    Bihar should call rat meat “nutria” like the United States does. Is rat one of the exotic meats K M-W has eaten?

  6. If the French are eating rats, too, I shall now refer to them as “freedom protien.”

  7. A “trope”? Isn’t that something you catch from eating snails?

  8. I have a number of things to tell you. First, you stole this business from my father, second, it killed my mother, and now, you’re trying to ruin me. You made me hate myself. Well, I like myself now.

  9. Rats are OK if they’re hot.

  10. that rat meat is not only a delicacy but a protein-enriched food, widely popular in Thailand and France.
    I always wondered what the main ingredient of ratatouille was… Rats.
    I guess they’ll have to amend the CGI movie, with the main character throwing himself into the pot.

  11. I haven’t thought about History of the World in a few months!

    Roman Officer: Seize him!
    Josephus: [grabs crotch] Seize *this*, honkus!

    King Louis XVI: It’s good to be the king.

  12. India, where one of its presidents used to drink a glass of his own urine every morning.

  13. Having eaten it, I can assure you that rat isn’t actually that bad. It’s been a used in Polynesian/South Chinese/SE Asian cuisine for thousands of years now. However, there is a big difference between rats grown specifically to be eaten or which live in relatively clean habitats before they’re caught and the sort of rats that this guy is suggesting that they eat.

  14. Hey, it worked in Freejack:
    Alex Furlong: How the hell do you eat river rat?
    Eagle Man: Well, first you gotta cut off the head and the tail, and then you gut it. Then it’s all a matter of the sauce. You don’t just plop down a rodent on a plate and say here’s your river rat would you like red wine or white with ’em. Not that there’s any wine around here anyway.

    As for History of the World:
    [Gregory Hines is doing an ethnic dance that probably didn’t exist in Roman times ]
    Centurion: Which part of Ethiopia did you say you were from?
    Hines: 125th Street!

  15. Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy motherfucker. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That’s a filthy animal. I ain’t eat nothin’ that ain’t got enough sense enough to disregard its own feces.

    I would listen to him Shem.

  16. Re: Bones. Rats obviously have bones. But if you catch street rats, gut them, and roast them, most bones can be eaten with the flesh. Very few are worth picking out.

  17. I have long desired to sample Thai rat. They’re harvested along with the grain and eaten at harvest festivals. I’ve always figured a grain fed rat would be pretty tasty. One cooked by a Thai chef would likely be delicious.

  18. Focusing solely on the third-world economics: The smaller the mammal, the higher the metabolism.

    Therefore, it would take more calories (i.e., feed) to grow X pounds of rat than X pounds of pig or any other larger mammal.

    And the ratio of gizzards to edible flesh would also work against smaller mammals as opposed to larger.

    (Unless, of course, you’re stuck in a Japanese POW camp.)

  19. “Grilled Rats Bordeaux Style (Entrecote ? 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.”

    or if you prefer…

    “Mice in Cream (Souris ? la cr?me)
    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 saut?ed mice to it, and warm them in it for about 10 minutes before serving.”

  20. Here’s a solution to poverty that G. Gordon Liddy can get behind (in his bio, he claimed to have eaten a rat to prove to himself that he had willpower).

  21. How has everyone managed to avoid calling this a Modest Proposal? I guess you have more willpower than I.

  22. I have a better idea. Get rid of this “caste” bullshit once and for all, and let people find work on their own merits rather than wallow in poverty because of the circumstances of their birth.

  23. Kayhan,

    Because we don’t think “rat” is a euphemism for Indian babies?

  24. Only real men like me eat rats.

  25. It might be practical for using rat meat to make cat and dog food, thus avoiding the grossness factor.

    If the Indian rats are eating grain and garbage, they are not much different from the diet eaten by pigs.

  26. Amen Rhywun. However, why do I get the impression that we should maybe start with a more modest task of training water to flow uphill?

  27. >>I have a better idea. Get rid of this “caste” bullshit once and for all, and let people find work on their own merits rather than wallow in poverty because of the circumstances of their birth.

    Wow, Rhywun. If only the Indians had someone like you, all their problems would go away!

  28. A new Agribusiness for India, Rat Ranches! Employment for thousands, caring for and herding rats (Smile when you say that, ratboy!) A new subject for Bollywood, muscials about life on the Rat Drives, where eveyrone rides Shetland ponies. Gabby Hayes Indian cousing manning the Chuck…oops Curry Wagon.

  29. OT: I once thought this was an urban legend, but it happened to me. I woke up one morning, stumbled into the bathroom, and discovered a dead rat floating in the toilet. Aaargh! There were no rat holes in the apartment, no rat turd by the baseboards, and it wasn’t half eaten so it couldn’t have been a present from my cat. It must have got in through the toilet trap and drowned when it couldn’t climb out of the slick porcelan bowl.

  30. I’m disappointed in all of you. Not one of you got the Willard reference.

  31. I got it, but I didn’t know I was supposed to congratulate you for it. If you want ego stroking, this is not the best forum for it.

  32. Sorry, Episiarch, but the only Willard I know is an errand boy who used a machete on some fat dude.

  33. Sounds like Dwarf food. Rat is all very good and well (provided you have some sauce) but Dwarf Bread is even better:

    Rock-hard (and contains various rocks such as gravel), never goes stale, and is terribly sustaining, because a traveler will try anything rather than start eating the dwarf bread in his pack. Proper dwarf bread is forged rather than baked. Various forms of dwarf bread can be used as weapons or as currency with dwarfs.

  34. Should someone explain to this guy that parts of History of the World Part I were less than fully historically accurate?

  35. Unless you’ve avoided processed food all your life, you’ve almost certainly eaten a good helping of rat droppings over the years. Eating rat meat is actually a step up, I’d think.

  36. Therefore, it would take more calories (i.e., feed) to grow X pounds of rat than X pounds of pig or any other larger mammal.

    Not so for rats. Well, it does take more calories, but rats can and do eat almost anything they can find, which means that they can be fed things that humans can’t.

    Naga Sadow- I didn’t say I liked it. I pride myself on being capable of eating anything. Enjoying is another matter entirely…

  37. I’ll take the talk of expanding India’s protein sources seriously, when government officials start including the Hindu sacred cow on the menu. As I have heard it (no citations, sorry), India has as many cattle as some US ranching states, and yet it is illegal to slaughter, molest, or even run them out of your house.

    What Indian’s need is a good barbecue pit!

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