Saturday, April 08, 2017

Ate Beaver For Lent

Bootleggin' BBQ Tavern, only a few blocks walk from our apartment, has an amusing treat available during Lent: beaver meat.

According to the Scientific American, when Catholicism came into contact with the new world they declared beaver a fish to accommodate local tastes.

"So in the 17th century, the Bishop of Quebec approached his superiors in the Church and asked whether his flock would be permitted to eat beaver meat on Fridays during Lent, despite the fact that meat-eating was forbidden. Since the semi-aquatic rodent was a skilled swimmer, the Church declared that the beaver was a fish. Being a fish, beaver barbeques were permitted throughout Lent. Problem solved!

The Church, by the way, also classified another semi-aquatic rodent, the capybara, as a fish for dietary purposes. The critter, the largest rodent in the world, is commonly eaten during Lent in Venezuela. "It's delicious," one restaurant owner told the New York Sun in 2005. "I know it's a rat, but it tastes really good.""

Looks like I'm going to have to find a capybara dealer for next year.

The taste didn't exactly change my life.

NPR reports that something similar is going on with another weird animal to the north: muskrat.

"In other parts of the country, it's been a longstanding habit to eat water-dwelling mammals during Lent. Muskrats are traditional in parts of the mid-Atlantic, for instance. The Southern Grille in Ellendale, Del., is serving muskrat during this Lenten season.

The dish is quite common in parts of Michigan. This time of year, lots of churches and social clubs host muskrat dinners — so many that the local stock has been partially depleted: Muskrats are being shipped in from Ohio."

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