Adventurous Eating: Trying rat meat in Bắc Ninh

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m catching up with my goings-on and trying to get my blog up-to-date. This post is from September last year.

If you have ever been to Vietnam, you will know that you can eat almost everything in this country from intestine broth (Phá lấu),  to chicken feet to fertilised duck eggs.

Well, I have tried all of those and there’s probably only one I wouldn’t have again (you can guess). So when I got the opportunity to try rat meat – a meal normally reserved for special occasions, I jumped at the opportunity…like a rat up a drainpipe, if you will. Local restaurant owner and excellent chef, Shahar Lubin, lead a group of us on a minibus to Bắc Ninh, a town around an hour’s drive away from Hanoi where we would be hosted by a local family for the afternoon.

At left: Shay - the organiser of the trip.
At left: Shay – the organiser of the trip.

Just for the record, these are not the rats you see scurrying along the streets or along overhead cables in Hanoi. No, these are the country-folk, who spend their days in the fields until our host catches them and prepares them for a tasty meal.

The meat itself is actually very tasty with a texture and rich flavour not dissimilar to duck or other game-type meats. We had several different preparations presented to us as well as congealed blood soup from muscovite duck which I politely declined – that was a step too far for me.

Some of the dishes
Some of the dishes

I wish I could go into more detail but, as is common when invited to a family’s home here, the rice wine was flowing freely and the afternoon soon descended into rather a haze.

Toasting with the rice wine.
Toasting with the rice wine.

Despite not understanding each other’s respective languages, the international language of spending time getting drunk together allowed for a very enjoyable afternoon with lots of handshakes and translated questions and answers about our families. All-in-all, a very enjoyable day despite boring my dear fiancée, Annie, with my drunken ramblings when I returned and, of course, the intense headache the following day.

The patriarch of the family.
The patriarch of the family.

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