Rat Feasts and Dead Bishops

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Stories about weird food get special coverage here in China, so when I saw an article recently about a restaurant that served rat dishes (I promptly ignored it), I should have immediately realized that the story would get wide circulation.

It has. Can’t ignore it now, not with all the joke potential.

China Hush has the whole story, complete with rat photos, if you’re so inclined. This paragraph struck a nerve:

Reporter visited some of these stalls and find each of them place a cage of rats beside the door. About noon, the reporter saw a rat feast going on: braised rat, rat hotpot, and stewed rat on the table, there are rat dishes that come in whole, some come in parts, while diners are glutting themselves without any signs of fear.

In response, I had two allusions to choose from. The first was the shrimp litany from Forrest Gump, which is certainly entertaining and definitely fits the occasion.

On the other hand, shrimp is a “normal” food and, although I do not personally care for it all that much, should not be used as a counterpart to rat.

My other choice, therefore, from the annals of Monty Python, is a perfect fit since it also involves a discussion of rat dishes. So without further ado, an excerpt from the Dead Bishop Sketch to fit the occasion. Bon apetit!

Mother: (turning off radio) liberal rubbish! Klaus!

Klaus: Yeah?

M: Whaddaya want with yer jugged fish?

K: ‘Alibut.

M: The jugged fish IS ‘alibut!

K: Well, what fish ‘ave you got that isn’t jugged?

M: Rabbit.

K: What, rabbit fish?

M: Uuh, yes…it’s got fins….

K: Is it dead?

M: Well, it was coughin’ up blood last night.

K: All right, I’ll have the dead unjugged rabbit fish.

Voice over: One dead unjugged rabbit fish later:

K: (putting down his knife and fork) Well, that was really ‘orrible.

M: Aaw, you’re always complainin’!

K: Wha’s for afters?

M: Rat cake, rat sorbet, rat pudding, or strawberry tart.

K: (eyes lighting up) Strawberry tart?

M: Well, it’s got some rat in it.

K: ‘Ow much?

M: Three. A lot, really.

K: Well, I’ll have a slice without so much rat in it.

Voice over: One slice of strawberry tart without so much rat in it later:

K: (putting down fork and knife) Appalling.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss spam.

[Yes, this was all an excuse to show a picture of Rizzo the Rat and excerpt some classic Python. It was worth it.]

2 responses on “Rat Feasts and Dead Bishops

  1. Chris Devonshire-Ellis

    I was once in a restaurant in Guilin with a group of Chinese friends for dinner. The main dish was some meat served in a sauce with lotus bulb and celery, it was very good, but I couldn’t identify the light pink looking meat slices. My friends didn’t know the English name for it, but told me “The animal is black and white, lives in the jungle and eats bamboo”. I nearly fell off my chair. Then they told me the chef had a live one in a cage in the kitchen, would I like to see it? I would. And there, in a cage some four feet square, was a large, pure white creature with a long black tail. It was a Bamboo Rat.