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not the inner city rat

Cane Rat


Cane Rats or Grasscutters (Thryonomys swinderianus or Thryonomys gregorianus) are common throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. They are valued for their tasty high-protein meat, particularly in Western Africa. Elsewhere, species of field mice are caught and eaten. It should be noted that the species of rats and mice that are valued as a food source in Africa are those that live in the wild (in fields, forests, grasslands, and the like) and not those that live among human populations in villages, towns or cities, which are viewed as pests to be killed and disposed of. Traditionally cane rats are caught in the wild and consumed in rural areas or sold in urban markets like any other bushmeat. Over the past two decades farmers in several African countries have begun raising grasscutters as mini-livestock. Grasscutter meat is usually used in the typical African soups and stews, or roasted.

See the recipe for Deku Delight in the The Official Peace Corps C.A.R. Cookbook.


Eddy L. Harris

It's different. But it's good

In Native Stranger: A Black American's Journey into the Heart of Africa (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), Eddy L. Harris provides this account of cane rat stew in the Ivory Coast:

Denis asked if I was hungry and took me to the home of a woman making stew. He was tired and so was I. It had been a very long day. We would rest awhile and have something to eat with her before going home.
We sat outside and drank millet beer, frothy and sweet. Then we ate this woman's strange stew. Denis watched me carefully -- too carefully, it seemed.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
. . .
"Nothing, " he said. "How do you like the stew?"
"It's different," I said. "But it's good."
He was playful again.
"Did you ever eat a rat before?"
I kept eating. Nothing surprised me anymore.
"Don't worry," he said. "It's not like a rat in the sewer. It's more like a field rat."
"Oh, I wasn't worried," I said, glad that he had explained the difference.
The stew was vaguely sweet, pungent, a new taste.
We drank more millet beer and the evening began to glow. Denis smiled. He became for me then all that was right about Africa, the warmth, the generosity, the laughter.


Other African gastronomical excerpts

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