New York's Rats: Irritating When Infesting, Delicious When Smoked

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Photo: Getty Images

While New Yorkers have been tying up the 311 lines to report their ever-escalating rodent problems, as the Times reminded us early last week, the enterprising folks at West African Grocery in Hell's Kitchen don't complain about their rodents — they stock them in the refrigerator section. Food-safety inspectors seized two pounds of smoked rodent meat from the market last week; there's no word on whether these were imported specimens or New York's native Norways. According to Microlivestock: Little-Known Small Animals With a Promising Economic Future, a book put out by the National Research Council, an estimated 42 cultures worldwide eat rodents; the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that rat meat makes up half the locally produced meat consumed in Ghana. The rats for sale at West African Grocery don't seem to be in quite as high demand — a prescient poster on Chowhound wrote of the place last May, "while I'm not at all squeamish about the arguable lack of sanitary conditions (to put it mildly), I've just never had the impression they have particularly high turnover." And, really, who likes rat that isn't fresh? —Wren Abbott

N.Y. Cracks Down on Armadillos, Iguanas, Rodents and Cow Lungs [AP via WABC]