I taste tested something new this week – The Royal Rat. It was done in a hot peppery gravy and was tender enough that it could be cut with a fork. The first bite, taken kind of absent-mindedly, reminded me of beef. It wasn’t until I cut the next piece off, when I was looking at the texture, that I realized I had forgotten I ordered Gibnut and that I was not eating beef. The meat looks like well-done organ meat, with a tight, fine-looking grain and I was surprised at how much it reminded me of the taste of beef. Now here is something that doesn’t taste like chicken, lol.
I have seen pictures where they batter and deep fry the feet and I don’t think I could eat that. I have also seen pictures where they serve the animal whole on your plate and I don’t think I could eat that either. With the animal cut up into smaller pieces I can honestly say I enjoyed eating this new meat. I may even buy some and work with it myself. Maybe make a stew or something…
Now, I am sure you must be asking – What is Gibnut? And why is it called The Royal Rat?
Gibnut, as it is known in Belize, is officially called Paca, and is considered to be a rodent. They grow to between 13 – 26 lbs and live in burrows underground. They are good swimmers, they like to live in forested areas, and they prefer to be close to rivers. Gibnut likes to eat cassava, yam, sugar cane, corn and other foods which are staples for the local villagers. They have 2 litters a year and in some areas their populations are growing. The Mountain Paca apparently has declining numbers but the Lowland Paca is not suffering the same fate. Due to this it is possible that the Gibnut could be raised commercially, although it is said that the farmed Gibnut doesn’t taste as good as the wild Gibnut.
The name Royal Rat was given to the Gibnut, not as a slur against the Queen, but because she was served Gibnut during one of her visits to Belize.