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Russian Restaurant Offers Rat Burgers

A restaurant in Moscow, Russia, has begun serving an unusual dish to customers -- a burger made using rat meat.

The burger, sold at Krasnodar Bistro, is made from a rodent that lives in large numbers nearby known as a river rat, also called a nutria or coypu, according to The Guardian. The burger is said to fit into a new trend in upscale Moscow dining that focuses on local ingredients.

Muscovite restaurateur Takhir Kholikberdiev, 35, says that those who have concerns about eating the rodent burgers don't realize how clean and nutritious the river rats are.

"It's a really clean animal; not only is it a herbivore but it washes all its food before it eats. And it's very high in omega-3 acids. A lot of doctors and dietitians recommend it," said Kholikberdiev. The restaurant owner added that nutria is easy to cook, since it will remain tender no matter how long you cook it.

The burgers, which come packed in a soft bun with relish, cost around $8.50. The rodent is also available cooked in hot dog form. The meat reportedly tastes "somewhere between turkey and pork," according to Metro.

Kholikberdiev said that the idea to cook nutria came from the 1990s, when many Russians who could not afford fur coats made from the fur of foxes or minks used the river rat's coat as a cheaper substitute because of how common the rodent was in Russia. With the surplus of skinned nutria, people began to use them to cook.

"Every village in Krasnodar region would have 100 or so nutrias, and when you went to stay with your grandparents, they'd always stew one up for you," he said.

Kholikberdiev added that other chefs in Moscow have begun to use the nutria, as well.

"I have it here and at one of my other restaurants. Other chefs have started to use it here," he said. "And now, if you go to the market in Moscow, they might not have nutria available every day, but they’ll get it in for you within a week if you ask."

Sources: The Guardian, Metro / Photo credit: Jose Reynaldo da Fonseca/Wikimedia Commons

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