It’s the Year of the Rat, but Vietnamese rodents might want to keep a low profile. These days they’re ending up on the dinner plate. An article in the Wall Street Journal looks at the rising popularity of rat meat.

Rats have been a delicacy in Vietnam’s rural areas for centuries, with recipes dating back 150 years. For a long time, however, this country’s big city folk were generally less enthusiastic, often associating the animals more with garbage-digging vermin than mouth-watering entrees.

But in 2004, flare-ups of bird flu claimed scores of lives here and prompted many diners to search for alternative sources of protein. Demand went up, but paradoxically supply did too. That’s because rats’ natural predators—snakes and cats—are increasingly finding themselves on the menus of posh restaurants frequented by wealthy Vietnamese.

How does it taste? As WSJ writer James Hookway reports, “Rat may taste like chicken, but with a tiny rat drumstick between your fingers, it’s hard to pretend it really is.”

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