Cormac MacConnell: Ratburgers on Moscow menus

Hungry today? How would you fancy a ratburger?
Cormac MacConnell: Ratburgers on Moscow menus

My always reliable sources advise me that you will hugely enjoy your first ratburger. They tell me that the taste is seasonable enough, being quite close to that of turkey, and even good pork.

You can garnish your ratburger, also, of course, with relish and mustard of your choice, and, as always with a burger, much will depend upon the freshness and taste of the bun in which your juicy slice of rat is served.

No, I have not gone off my rocker this week.

As always I am dealing with the pure truth.

I accept the fact that you will not be easily able to source a succulent ratburger yet in most Irish takeaways or restaurants.

They should arrive on the culinary scene shortly though, and I swear that I will be an early customer.

However, if any of you are visiting Moscow in the near future, or have friends over there, direct them to a number of popular restaurants in the streets around the Kremlin, and they will be delighted to serve them with as many ratburgers as they can consume.

Warn your friends, though, that ratburgers are not cheap.

In the restaurant called the Krasnoder Bistro, for example, the customer for the ratburger will have to fork out nearly€10 for the treat.

Rats don’t come cheap at all.

In fairness, I have to further inform you all that the rat in your succulent ratburger is not exactly similar to our Irish rats.

For a start, he is somewhat larger, has prominent orange teeth, and a thicker pelt, and originally hailed from South America ,having been imported into Russia fifty years ago, not for his meat, but because the Russians discovered they could make cheap fur coats from his pelt.

But then, in the 1990s, when the recession struck Russians as hard as it struck the rest of us, villagers in small poor villages discovered that the flesh made a tasty stew, served to all visitors, and from that beginning to the posh restaurants and bistros in Moscow was only a short rat race.

Ye know what I mean.

He’s a genuine rodent, a genuine rat.

Make no mistake about that.

His proper title is coypu, though he is more commonly known as a river rat, by the common people.

In the posh bistros, naturally, they don’t use the word rat on the menu.

They call him a nutria, which sounds safer, claim that he is a herbivore and washes all his grub before devouring it, and his flesh is high, they say, in Omega-3.

And the good news is that if you have always preferred a hotdog to a burger, the Moscow bistros can cope with that demand too, and quickly serve you up a hotrat, or even rat and cabbage to remind the Irish of bacon and cabbage back home.

I swear all of this is the purest of truths.

Have I ever lied to ye here?


Furthermore it suddenly occurs to me as I write that there may be a splendid business opportunity here for one or two of you who are entrepreneurial, and not squeamish about rats.

I have learned that your coypu, or river rat, breeds at an even faster rate than any of our Irish rats, grows up very quickly, costs almost nothing to feed and fatten, since it is a herbivore, and since it has become popular in the Moscow bistros, there is the looming probability that demand will shortly exceed the local supply. Is there a market niche there?

The magnificent aid organisation Bothar recently airlifted to Africa its latest consignment of in-calf heifers and goats and sheep for the Third World.

Is it stretching credibility too far to imagine, sometime in the near future, an airlift of Irish-bred, orange-toothed rats, bound for the bistros and upmarket restaurants in the shadow of the Kremlin.

Your guess is probably better than mine!

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