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It is often said that politicians will do anything to get some press, so given the fact that the profession in Mexico is sometimes referred to as ‘ratas’ by both journalists, protesters and even cartoonists, a certain irony could be detected in the decision of local politician Miss Guadalupe Flores, of the Zacatecas state legislature, to put ‘caldo de rata’ or rat soup back on the Mexican menu.
To do so, the poured herself a big scoop of the local delicacy during a recent festival on the steps of the state legislature.
Miss Flores says she wants to promote an old delicacy which is healthy and not to is mistaken with the sewer animals: “The idea is to demystify the consumption of field rats, a clean animal, which is not related in any way to the species in the sewers.”
“Anybody that tries it once is going to love it and it will become their favourite dish. It’s not like chicken. Rat meat is very similar to rabbit, only much more flavourful.”
Mexico has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, and politicians aim to do whatever they can to get the local population to eat healthier. The idea of eating rodents is unlikely to go nationwide, but in the area of Zacatecas, a state set on the high altiplano in the heart of the country, the older population recalls better times when they ate the vegetable broth everywhere.
The winter soup which is stuffed with corn, zucchini and spiced with oregano to lessen the effect of the rat meat is still eaten in local cantinas, where men use it on Sundays as a hangover remedy, but nowhere in the local restaurants is it seen on the menu. Miss Flores wants to change all that.
She has found support at the University of Zacatecas, where professor Manuel de Jesús Macías Patiño, who has done extensive studies on the field rats in the area, confirms the health benefits: “It has a very high protein content and a very high vitamin content, too.”