Bizarre and exotic foods are nothing new to locals in southern China's Guangdong province, but here's one meal you may not have considered: fried mice.
Proving that there's nothing edible that hasn't been turned into a delicacy somewhere in the world, freshly caught mice are now considered a trendy source of protein, reports the Austrian Times.
According to butcher shop owner Wan Shen, the notion that mouse meat is unclean is passé. Shen's shop specializes in the rodent, and he ensures his customers that all of his mice are freshly caught and free-range.
"Some people worry that mice aren't clean, but these are all wild, free range mice caught in the countryside and are very healthy. They are thought of as a special treat," he said.
Who would have thought that setting out mouse traps could be considered a form of hunting?
Aside from a simple mouse filet, fans can also order specially cured mouse bacon made into tiny rashers by delicate carving. The meat doesn't have to be fried, either. (Though doesn't everything taste better deep-fried?) You can prepare it much like you would any other type of meat, just in smaller, mouse-sized portions.
"I've been eating mice for 10 years with no ill effects. You can fry them, roast them or boil them. They're very sweet and tasty," said customer Mo Lin.
Mice might be among the most abundant of rodents, but carefully slicing out only the finest of cuts from such a tiny animal does take a special skill. As a result, the delicacy isn't as cheap as you would think. Pound for pound it's more expensive than chicken or pork.
Although you might not think of mice as food, they are hardly the only rodent that gets regularly consumed around the world. Guinea pigs were originally domesticated for their meat (called "cuy") and are still a traditional cuisine in the Andes of South America. In fact, it's not uncommon for cuy to be served at urban restaurants in Peru or Bolivia in the form of a casserole or a fricassee. It's also popular barbecued and served with corn beer.
For most other rodent recipes, however, you need look no further than Guangdong province. Mice are only the latest trend; rats are also on the menu. At least one restaurant there has specialized in the notorious rodent. Some of the meals available have included Rat with Chestnut and Duck, Lemon Deep-Fried Rat and Sautéed Rat Slices with Vermicelli. If you're not in the mood for rat, the restaurant also serves dishes which feature silkworm, raccoon and snake. (I wonder if the snakes are mice-fed?)
"I was always eating out, but I got bored with the animals that restaurants offered," said Zhang Guoxun, owner of the offbeat restaurant. "I wanted to open a restaurant with an affordable exotic animal. Then I was walking home one night and a rat ran across in front of me and gave me this idea."