The Sam Khok Diet

A few weeks ago I wrote about the weekend phenomenon of grilled rats at the roadside. There was considerable interest in this specialty. One of my closest friends resolved not to read my blog anymore. My nephew, on the other hand, offered to pay shipping + a substantial handling fee should I be able to send such a delicacy to him by express mail. I posed a number of questions, as did many of you, and it was obvious that more research was warranted.

Today being Saturday, and the rats only being sold on weekends and holidays, I set out to investigate the market price, taste, and suitable drink pairings for grilled rat. What I discovered is a great new dieting strategy. I have always opined that a sure way to lose weight is to have a cigarette (and coffee, if you must) for breakfast, a cigarette for lunch, and a sensible dinner. After reading some of the recent medical literature, I have come to realize the importance of a more substantial breakfast.

Today's inquisition into grilled rat has provided an inspiration for me to develop a new dieting strategy, one more in tune with today's nutritional and health knowledge. For simplicity, I call this the Sam Khok diet (Sam Khok is the small village where I live). There are three simple steps, corresponding with each meal of the day. Unlike some other diets, the Sam Khok diet is guaranteed to work.

1. Start with a healthy breakfast. Health professionals recognize breakfast as the most important meal of the day. Who am I to argue? If it is a weekend, follow breakfast by going out to find some rats, as your previous week's stock is probably depleted. If a weekday, remove a rat from the freezer and thaw in cold water (much like one would thaw a frozen turkey at Thanksgiving) so that lunch and dinner can be prepared.

But stop at the ATM first. Rats are not cheap! I can get fish for 30 or 40 baht per kg, chicken is 50 baht, pork is 100 baht, beef is just over 100 baht per kg, and grilled rat is a pricey morsel at 180 to 200 baht per kg. At four times the price of chicken, you are buying a delicacy, and a healthy one at that, with lean white meat, internal organs rich in minerals, a high protein content, and a bit of pretentiousness thrown in too! I don't think the neighbors can afford to pay 200 baht to eat rat every day. Let them eat their fish and chicken, I say, while I have the high quality meat at my table.

2. Right, it is lunchtime now, and you either have the rat freshly purchased, or the rat from last weekend that you have frozen and now it is thawed and ready to eat. I just like to get right to it, no utensils required, but with such a meat, I like to have a whisky & soda too. I find the strong flavors of the whisky are an ideal accompaniment to the rat.

I am not sure why many Europeans and Americans have such an aversion to eating rat. Perhaps it is the unfortunate association of rats with the bubonic plague or Black Death. True of course, that association, as fleas infected with the bacterium may infect both rats and humans, but a rat not infected with the bacterium is certainly not going to cause me to become infected. Anyway, the Black Death was hundreds of years ago. Could there be some resistance to eating rats because we often find them in sewers, garbage dumps, and other foul places? Perhaps. Could there be a religious instruction against eating rat (Leviticus 11:29)? Well, yes, but I don't know anyone who follows all the Old Testament rules.

So back to the Sam Khok diet lunch. Try to eat the rat, have another drink, repeat. The rat will tend not to be eaten. The drinks are only a few hundred calories, at most. At all costs, avoid rice or other high carbohydrate foods.

3. Dinnertime, and you will be quite hungry now after that light but casual lunch. Dress if you like. I prefer black tie and bring out the fine silver.

You will want a strong red with this, the rat that you did not finish for lunch. A Chianti would do, or a ripe Australian shiraz, or even a Rioja. Again, as with lunch, avoid rice or bread. The Sam Khok diet is all about protein and lean meat. No excess carbohydrates here, fellow-dieters! Good luck with the dinner. I have found that no matter how much wine I drink, my appetite remains under control.

Finally, call it a night, prepare to dispose of the few bits of rat that went unconsumed today, and look forward to tomorrow's breakfast.

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