Friday, February 25, 2011

Rat du jour

'Along with the carrier-pigeon, the rat was to become the most fabled animal of the Siege of Paris [1870-1], and from December the National Guard spent much of its time engaged in vigorous rat-hunts. Even so, the number actually consumed was relatively few: according to one contemporary American calculation, only 300 rats were eaten during the whole siege, compared with 65,000 horses, 5,000 cats and 1,200 dogs. The elaborate sauces that were necessary to render them edible meant that rats were essentially a rich man's dish - hence the notorious menu of the Jockey Club, which featured such delicacies as "salmis de rats" and rat pie.'

From Alistair Horne, The Seven Ages of Paris (2002)