I’m not shy about trying new foods. While in Australia I munched on and enjoyed crocodile and kangaroo. I’ve had more than my fair share of alligator in Florida. I’ve sampled iguana in Aruba, Sea Urchin in Malta, Barnacles in Portugal and even deep fried scorpions in Bangkok. But there’s one food that left a bad taste in my mouth and that one was I had right here in Detroit.
A few years ago during Lent, a listener came to the station to pick up a prize. He also brought a crock of muskrat stew with him. Knowing that I was an adventurous eater he brought the stew into the control room and absolutely insisted that I try a couple of spoonfuls. Folks, I’ve got to tell you it was nasty. It tasted gritty and dirty. Thank goodness there were many vegetables in the stew that partially covered the foul tasting muskrat.
The listener told me that muskrats became popular with downriver Catholics more than a hundred years ago. He said during Lent and on Fridays when Catholics often avoided meat, the muskrat was classified as more of a seafood since it hangs out mainly in the marsh. In fact muskrats are also known locally as marsh hares. So the theory was that if Catholics wanted to eat meat on Fridays or during Lent, muskrat was okay. That’s what he told me anyway.
I did a little research on muskrat after trying it. Turns out all the muskrat consumed in the U.S. actually comes from Canada where they have a game department that actually inspects muskrat meat for quality. We do not have such inspectors here in the U.S. Of course if you want to go out and shoot and eat your own muskrat, I guess there’s nothing wrong with that.
A downriver restaurant used to offer muskrat meals. And at least one downriver church used to hold an annual muskrat dinner to benefit sports teams. I don’t know whether they still so, however.
If you’re ever offered muskrat I’d suggest that you try it. Maybe I just got a bad batch!