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Claim: Photographs show rats being prepared for human consumption.
Origins: We don't know the specific origins of the pictures displayed above, but they probably are real images of rats being prepared for human consumption somewhere in Asia. However, it's rather unlikely, as the text accompanying the photos implies, that the rats pictured are vermin rounded up off the street and foisted upon
The level of preparation and presentation pictured here is indicative of a restaurant (or perhaps a private home) in a part of China where clean, fresh, farm-captured rats are lavishly prepared and served to diners eager to consume rat-meat dishes. Indeed, in some parts of China rat meat sells for considerably more than chicken, pork, or beef.
In 2000, New Yorker reporter Peter Hessler journeyed to Luogang, a small village in China's Guangdong Province specifically because he'd heard Luogang was home to "a famous restaurant that specialized in the preparation of rats." Upon his arrival, he discovered there were two such restaurants (the Highest Ranking Wild Flavor Restaurant and the New Eight Sceneries Wild Flavor Food City) in the village, with a third under construction. Here are a few excerpts from his article, describing what he found out about the preparation and consumption of rats at those restaurants:
Besides rat, a customer at the Highest Ranking Wild Flavor Restaurant can order turtledove, fox, cat, python, and an assortment of strange-looking local animals whose names do not translate into English. All of them are kept live in pens at the back of the restaurant and are killed only when a customer orders one of them.In June 2007, someone used these pictures to accompany a story about the supposed closure of Amin's Chinese Halal Restaurant in Newark, New Jersey. The Newark Department of Health did order the closure Amin's in early 2007 due to unsanitary conditions related to food preparation and storage (including the presence of rodents), but these photographs have absolutely nothing to do with that closure. No employees at Amin's were spotted chopping up rats or preparing rat meat dishes for customers; in fact, inspectors didn't actually see any rats during their visit to that facility (just secondary signs of a rodent problem in the basement).
Many people come from faraway places. They come from Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Macao. One customer came all the way from America with her son. They were visiting relatives in Luogang, and the family brought them here to eat. She said you couldn't find this kind of food in America.
At the Highest Ranking Wild Flavor Restaurant, I began with a dish called Simmered Mountain Rat with Black Beans. There were plenty of other options on the
I ate the beans first. They tasted fine. I poked at the rat meat. It was clearly well done, and it was attractively garnished with onions, leeks, and ginger. Nestled in a light sauce were skinny rat thighs, short strips of rat flank, and delicate, toylike rat ribs.
"We're not eating city rats," [the restaurant's owner told me]. "The mountain rats are clean, because they aren't eating anything dirty. Mostly, they eat
I watched dozens of peasants come down from the hills, looking to get a piece of the rat business. They came on mopeds, on bicycles, and on foot. All of them carried burlap sacks of squirming rats that had been trapped on their farms. In Luogang, rats are more expensive than pork or chicken. A pound of rat costs nearly twice as much as a pound of beef.
In August 2007, the same pictures and text from the June 2007 iteration were circulated again, this time with slight alterations to identify them with the Buffet City restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama. Soon afterwards, the text was updated again to reference the Yaohan Center Food Court in Richmond, British Columbia.
Last updated: 29 November 2007
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