Prefer your lucky rat deep-fried or grilled?

To welcome the Year of the Rat, some people in rural Taiwan and China have increased their rat consumption accordingly. Reuters reports that a rural eatery at Taiwan’s Chiayi county, serves 10 rat-themed dishes, including rat soup, black pepper-dipped and deep-fried rat. The diner goes through around 18 kg (40 lb) of rat meat per day.

Here is the “Rat-at-Chewy” video by Reuters, depicting the way rats are prepared and eaten. I wouldn’t suggest watching it before lunch.

Rat meat apparently became popular in rural Taiwan in the 1940s and 1950s among people who could not afford chicken or pork. At least we know that if the sub-prime mortgage crisis gets any worse, there are enough rats in New York to fill every American man, woman and child.

Year of the Rat: Bring some luck into your life

With the Year of the Rat starting today, it’s not too late to attract good luck in order to make 2008 the best ever. Here are three ways. The first two I have tried.

Get a miniature orange tree– When we lived in Singapore we bought an orange tree every year right before Chinese New Year. The experience reminded me a bit like buying a live Christmas tree. Vendors selling these trees popped up all over the city. Size, cost and amount of oranges all figured into our decision making regarding which to buy–even the style of the pot was part of the package.

We set our tree out on the patio of our apartment and managed not to kill it for awhile. I can’t remember if we had any more good luck than normal, but I loved having such a bright, cheerful plant thanks to the oranges that were not much bigger than a golf ball.

Buy bamboo–Unlike our orange tree that didn’t last a year, (it was us, not the tree), bamboo plants will last awhile if you remember to change the water. In Taiwan, we bought bamboo just in case one of these plants would bring us good luck. I can’t say if any of them did, but I loved browsing the choices before making a purchase. The most expensive ones are grown into shapes. Like Christmas trees and orange trees, the size figures into the price as well.

Put away your scissors–Bringing good luck into your house can also be as simple as putting away sharp scissors and knives. If they are out, you can “cut” your luck.

For more Chinese New Year tidbits about how to improve your fortune, check out this link to the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco.