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February 07, 2003

"Soul Food" from the Axis of Weasel

I have been reliably informed that our friends and allies the French eat giant water rats called, in French, ragondin, or by their latin name, Myocastor coypus.  (See picture, below.)

Picture of Ragondin

Here is a recipe for preparing "Rat Stew a la Francaise", by the well-known french culinary expert Henriette Guilhem.

For those of you (like myself) who are not proficient in speaking frog, I have attached a Google/Babelfish translation of this appalling recipe:   [N.B.  A  frog-speaking friend of mine was so bothered by the babelfish translation that they submitted the revised version below.  The introductory text, however, remains in all of its computer-generated fluency.]

1 7-9 lb water-rat
1/2 thick slice fatty ham
1 liquor glass Armagnac
2 tablespoons very good vinager
1 large onion
7 shallots
3 cloves garlic
3/4 tablespoon herbs de provence
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablets bitter chocolate
1 liter fresh red wine
salt and pepper
pinch of cayenne


  1. Cut up the water-rat (possibly using large shears), keeping the liver, lungs
    and heart.
  2. Cook the cut up pieces a for long time in the olive oil in a large saute pan
    (or 2, if necessary).
  3. Add the ham cut into very small cubes.
  4. When the pieces of rat are golden brown, take them out and flambe them in
    the Armagnac. Salt and pepper them and set them aside.
  5. Chop the onion, shallots, 2 cloves of the garlic, and cook them for a long
    time in the same oil, with the tomato paste, the liver, lungs and heart.
  6. When this chopped mixture is nicely browned, add the vinegar and evaporate
    for some minutes over high heat. Sprinkle the flour on top and cook again
    for a long time.
  7. In a pan, heat the wine. Add the chopped mixture and stir while heating to
    boiling. Add the cooked rat pieces, the bouquet garni, herbes de provence
    and chocolate, and salt and pepper again.
  8. Cover and cook over low flame for at least 3 hours.
  9. Just before this has finished cooking, add the last clove of garlic crushed.
  10. Test the seasoning, and make sure the sauce is thick. If necessary, add
    potato starch and cold water to the sauce and cook to thicken

Ms. Guilhem's introductory text was also very edifying....

The coypu is a rodent mammal, originating in South America, which can reach 1 meter of length and more than one ten kilos. For a few years, this animal, living at the origin in the marshes, has multiplied more and more in France, and even often invades the banks of the rivers, the water parts and the dams, digging burrows, more of days in days, this with the great despair of the residents.

This animal is not omnivorous, it nourishes itself a little as the beavers but does not hesitate to make raids in the corn fields bordering the banks, which is not very pleasant for the farmers.

Introduced in France at the XIX�me century, the coypu was high there for its comfortable fur which one also called "beaver of Canada". The disaffection of the fur coats, due to a certain high-speed motorboat, stopped Net this industry. In certain areas the breedings were released in nature, appreciably increasing in France the abundance of these animals and the fact that they is very prolific not arranging anything with the business, they became the undesirable ones a little everywhere. Thus the hunters were brought to be interested in them, and, in the tread, one fine day (perhaps not for them) they were found on the table of the gourmets and in kitchens of large heads.

When you announce a dish of coypu you see glances astonished with certainty, but often horrified. I thus advise you to speak initially to the uninitiated persons about "myocastor", which is its other name or, better, of "hare of the marshes" a name created by a large head who does not have fears to put it at his chart.

The name of this animal causes loathing wrongly because its flesh allows the realization of sauces and pots as succulent as those of hare or the venaisons. Backs and thighs provide excellent pieces; the coasts, very bulky, are very charnues. To preferably choose the animals from 3 to 5 kg. But the larger, marinated and well cooked coypus can also be prepared. One of my councils will be of corser a little the aromatics and pepper, compared to usual game.

I find this development fascinating.    You will note that the recipe for "coypu" can nowhere be found in the english language version of the website.    Also, who are these mysterious "large heads" who do not have fears to put rats on their charts?    Is the CIA keeping tabs on these folks?    Finally, I am reminded of the old saying that "you are what you eat".     Bon apetite!

February 7, 2003 at 01:40 PM | Permalink


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