On our way to Phnom Sampeau, our tuk-tuk driver and guide, Lizy, stopped at a small roadside grill/way-station. On the grill were a stack of, what looked like from a distance, birds. As we got closer Lizy explained to us that they were rats. The rats are a local delicacy during the dry season. When the rice paddies are bare and left over rice grains from the growing season litter the ground, rats will make their home on the ground near this food source. Villagers will go out at night and hunt the rats for food. This harvest of sorts only occurs in the dry season since during the rainy season the rats live in the trees. Unlike city rats, these rats eat a grain and fruit based diet and don’t carry the multitude of diseases that rats living in the city do. Free-range, organic rodentia if you will. I was amazed and promised myself I’d try one on our way back to Battambang later that evening. So on our way back I had Lizy pull over and help me order a rat. The lady running the rat stand tossed one on the grill to heat it up and gave it to me along with a napkin and special sauce. Just as Lizy told us earlier, it tasted like chicken (doesn’t everything?), albeit a rather gamey, wild, slightly greasy chicken. From tail to head I ate it all. My only qualm with the experience was that there really wasn’t much meat on the little guy. It really would take three to four to really satisfy a grown man’s hunger. Even Sarah got in on the fun and tried some despite her vegetarian leanings as of late. With a few tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini it could have been an official “rat”-atouille dish. Rat: The Other, Other White Meat. Ha!
Our tuk-tuk driver was THE best we have had in Asia. Give him $20 and he will not only show you several sites, he takes his time educating you on the rich history of this area. Here is his contact info: Mr. Lizy - 092.845.735 or on facebook - lizy tuk tuk tour