Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 Anyone ever eat muskrat? Previous Next
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Kronprinz
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Username: Kronprinz

Post Number: 93
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 9:27 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Muskrat love: A Lenten Friday delight for some Michiganders

By Kristin Lukowski
Catholic News Service

RIVERVIEW, Mich. (CNS) -- There's an alternative to fish for some Michigan Catholics abstaining from meat on Fridays in Lent -- muskrat.

The custom of eating muskrat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays in Lent apparently goes back to the early 1800s, the time of Father Gabriel Richard, an early missionary in Michigan whose flock included French-Canadian trappers. Legend has it that because trappers and their families were going hungry not eating flesh during Lent, he allowed them to eat muskrat, with the reasoning that the mammal lives in the water.

The story varies on just where in Michigan the dispensation extends. Among areas mentioned are along the Raisin River, along the Rouge River, both of which flow into Lake Erie south of Detroit, Monroe County in the southeast corner of Michigan, or all of southeast Michigan.

The Detroit archdiocesan communications department said there is a standing dispensation for Catholics downriver -- in Detroit's southern suburbs and below -- to eat muskrat on Fridays, although no documentation of the original dispensation could be found.

A 2002 archdiocesan document on Lenten observances, in addition to outlining the general laws of fast and abstinence, says, "There is a long-standing permission -- dating back to our missionary origins in the 1700s -- to permit the consumption of muskrat on days of abstinence, including Fridays of Lent."

The prospect of eating muskrat, a foot-long rodent, might be less than appetizing to some, but to many people downriver it's part of Lenten life.

St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Newport holds a muskrat dinner every year to raise funds for the parish's youth sports teams. The early February dinner includes sides of creamed corn and mashed potatoes. It features prizes donated by local merchants and serves up to several hundred dinners.

Bill "Pip" Chinavare was president of the sports club for 29 years and still heads up the muskrat fundraiser. His wife, Candy, said not many women participate in the annual dinner.

"This is a men's thing," she said. "They pack the men in."

"The majority of women can't get past the 'rat' thing," she said.

Father Russ Kohler, pastor at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Detroit and a downriver native, is a regular at the St. Charles Borromeo muskrat dinners. He said the trick to making the muskrat edible is in the marinade, a secret recipe based on a French liqueur.

He said he never ate muskrat before he attended the dinner while filling in at St. Charles as a priest. He's tried to make the dinner every year since then.

"I didn't fall in love with the product until I could drink beer," he joked.

He said muskrat has the consistency of chicken, but with a "unique" taste.

Johnny Kolakowski, owner of Riverview's Kola's Food Factory, has been eating muskrat since he was a kid. When he opened up his restaurant years ago, he put muskrat on the menu.

He can sell several dozen muskrat dinners on a Friday, but they were more popular back in the 1980s, when he would sell 150 a night. The tradition's less popular with the younger crowd, but it's not uncommon for young men to come in -- with their cameras -- and order a muskrat dinner.

Kolakowski, 59, a member of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Wyandotte, said muskrat tastes the same as duck. Both animals live in the water and have the same diet -- the only difference is one walks and one flies, he said.

His muskrats come from a trapper in Canada and they're served with sides of sauerkraut and mashed potatoes and gravy. The best part of a muskrat is the hind legs, he said.

The late Bishop Kenneth Povish of Lansing wrote in a 1987 column in The Michigan Catholic, Detroit archdiocesan newspaper, that "no (formal) dispensation was ever given to allow Catholics to eat muskrat on Fridays."

He referred to what he called the "Great Interdiocesan Doctrinal Debate" of 1956, during which he determined that although muskrat is a warm-blooded mammal and technically flesh, the custom had been so long held along Michigan's rivers and marshes that it was "immemorial custom," thus allowed under church law.

For the record, Bishop Povish didn't much care for muskrat as a meal. He wrote that "anyone who could eat muskrat was doing penance worthy of the greatest of the saints."

END
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Mikeg
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Username: Mikeg

Post Number: 664
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 9:49 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah, but it was about 45 years ago and I was still a kid at the time. My uncle was given some muskrat by a trapper friend of his and he brought it home for my aunt to cook. We happened to be visiting that day so he unwrapped it and showed us what it looked like after it was skinned, but the only recognizable parts that I remember were those tiny little claws on the feet. We were invited to stay for dinner and my aunt decided to add the muskrat to that night's menu. I had a taste of it and it was unremarkable.

More remarkable was the kangaroo dinner I had during a 1997 trip to Australia. Accompanied with a nice shiraz, it was very tasty!
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Ladyinabag
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Username: Ladyinabag

Post Number: 69
Registered: 03-2007
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 2:39 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Does it have cloven hoofs and chew the cud???
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 1665
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 4:04 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This came up (snicker) in the Free Press recently: You Haven't Lived Here Until You've eaten muskrat.
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Mama_jackson
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Username: Mama_jackson

Post Number: 223
Registered: 06-2006
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 8:21 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I bet it tastes like chicken. Rabbit does.

And no, never had muskrat.
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Detroitplanner
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Username: Detroitplanner

Post Number: 1064
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 9:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

No but I've had alley rat does that count?
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 1667
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 9:32 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The scene in National Lampoon's Vacation comes to mind where Aunt Edna, played by Imogene Coca (what a trooper!), learns that her dog urinated on her sandwich but shrugs her shoulders and takes another bite anyway.
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Johnnny5
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Username: Johnnny5

Post Number: 454
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 10:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I've had it a few times and really don't care for it.
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Harsensis
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Username: Harsensis

Post Number: 191
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 10:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I haven't had muskrat, but two weeks ago I had Kangaroo which was really good and rattle snake which I could have done without, to many bones. I use to get rabbit stew at the Navy Yard in Amherstburg Ontario, that was wonderful! Boy do I miss that dish. Elk is really good too.
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Kathinozarks
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Username: Kathinozarks

Post Number: 270
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 12:30 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam; do the jitterbug down in Muskrat land and they shimmy...Sammy's so skinny"
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Leoqueen
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Username: Leoqueen

Post Number: 1520
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 9:59 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I betcha G Gordon Liddy would really like it....after all, he killed and skinned a rat, and ate it
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Ladyinabag
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Username: Ladyinabag

Post Number: 73
Registered: 03-2007
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 10:41 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Harsensis-

Aren't these all things sacrificed to idols? Remind me to never kiss you (LOL). Ever been to the Amherstburg Hotel?



(Message edited by ladyinabag on March 11, 2007)
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Harsensis
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Username: Harsensis

Post Number: 193
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 6:12 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What kind is sacrificed to the idols? We use to only take day trips to Amherstburg to have a nice dinner. Nothing like rabbit in a nice white wine sauce! LOL
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Mikeg
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Username: Mikeg

Post Number: 684
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 6:16 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Some of us prefer to belong to the other PETA - People Eating Tasty Animals
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Hairybackjoe
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Username: Hairybackjoe

Post Number: 16
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 10:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I ventured down to Kola's a couple years back after they featured it on a Food Channel Program (I think it was Food Finds).

Tried the muskrat and didn't much care for it. I recall the skeleton of the muskrat was hard as stone.
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 3787
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 5:11 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Wonder if Betty Crocker makes "Muskrat Helper"...

Or is that one of the recipes under "Roadkill Helper"...
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Matt_the_deuce
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Username: Matt_the_deuce

Post Number: 709
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 5:28 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What does chicken taste like?
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Gambling_man
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Username: Gambling_man

Post Number: 977
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 5:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I've had Muskrat many times, and have seen them hundreds of times (they are very prevalent in my hometown of Monroe)....It's not that good, and alot of small bones get in your way. Tastes alot like dark meat of a wild duck. Gamey and dark. I've only ever seen it served "stewed" in creamed corn.
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 1684
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 5:57 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Google finds 80 pages containing "muskrat recipe." Fred's Muskrat Recipe mentions removing "all fat and glands."

Mmmmmm. Muskrat glands. They're muskier!
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Ladyinabag
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Username: Ladyinabag

Post Number: 77
Registered: 03-2007
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 7:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Harsenis-

Anything that doesn't have cloven hoofs and chews the cud was what the pagans sacrificed to idols (?). Don't quote me (LOL).
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Blort
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Username: Blort

Post Number: 67
Registered: 02-2007
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 8:28 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I would try anything once.
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Mallory
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Username: Mallory

Post Number: 86
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 9:09 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Didn't see it on the dollar menu at my local McDonald's yesterday, but I could have missed it.
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Roomseller
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Username: Roomseller

Post Number: 4
Registered: 03-2007
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 12:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"...Everything tastes like chicken, except the chicken..."

Actually drive through Delaware and I think it must be the state dish. Muscrat stew, Muskrat BBQ, grilled Muskrat. They're proud of their Muskrats. No thanks...
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Gambling_man
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Username: Gambling_man

Post Number: 979
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 2:58 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If you've never seen one, they look like a little Beaver with a rat-like tail. A little greasier and grungier than a Beaver, but kind of cute in an odd way. Can be quite viscious if cornered.
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Sknutson
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Username: Sknutson

Post Number: 818
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 3:02 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Nope. Nor have I ever tried 'possum.
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Ladyinabag
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Username: Ladyinabag

Post Number: 82
Registered: 03-2007
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 5:11 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Possum? Lord!! What is that reality show where they eat all of that wierd stuff for the money? I can't watch that show. Yuk!! Snakes and bugs and worms....(oh, my).

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