Today I hit a milestone in my journey to publication. With the purchase of the domain name www.micedonttastelikechicken.com, I now have a place for my book to call home.
The new title has caused quite a conversation over the past few weeks among my friends and colleagues. Every time I bring it up, I get the response, "If mice don't taste like chicken, what do they taste like?" Rest assured, no humans are dining on mice in the book (sorry to disappoint), but it begged a question. I'm not one to shy away from researching an interesting topic, so here are a few thought-provoking (and disturbing) tidbits about mice as a delicacy.
1. In Southeast Asia, a Ho Chi Minh City specialty is mouse. The mice are native to the countryside rather than the city. Some could even argue they are "organic." While smaller than what an American might be used to, the author of the article I read mentioned they tasted surprisingly good barbecued or spiced with chunks of roasted garlic.
2. The Tumbuka people of Eastern Zambia reserve the serving of mice as a special meal for guests, respected elders, or a special treat for the family. The mouse, not to be mistaken for the house rat (which is considered a vermin and dirty in the Tumbuka culture), is a delicacy as it lives off roots, nuts, and berries in the wild. There are over 14 types of mice the Tumbuka have identified as suitable for eating. To prepare, mice are gutted, boiled in plain water for about an hour, salted, and then fire dried. This should not be seen as savage but rather as this people's way of gaining valuable protein sources from a scarce supply.
3. It is rumored that in parts of China there still exists a dish called "Three Screams." Live "pinkies", or fetal mice, are served on a dish with accompanying hot flavoring. The first scream is said to be uttered when the mouse is picked up by hand and dipped in the flavoring, the second scream when it is pierced by the tongs of the fork, and the third when bitten. Let's hope this is just a rumor....
4. Finally, Joe Staton of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University has an interesting paper called "Tastes Like Chicken?" in which he links certain animals and how they taste based on evolutionary theory. Even he states, "Their relatives (referring to mice), so far as I have been able to determine, have either 'chicken-like' (in the case of rabbit) or 'beef-like' (in the case of muskrat) flavors." He admits to never having tried mouse himself though.
While your appetite for food may be ruined, hopefully you're still starved for a great middle grade fiction book.
"Live, Learn, Teach"