Hey, Waiter, What’s This Rat Doing in My Soup?

Hotpot, sans rat

Not the back stroke. That much we can divine from a New York Times article that reports that the rodent arrived “boiled, gelatinous and with its stunned arms outstretched.” The soup from which he was “fished out” was “a vat of bubbling broth,” better known throughout China as hotpot. If you’ve dined on it here, where it usually answers to the name “Mongolian hot pot,” you know it to be a cauldron of simmering broth into which you immerse strips of beef or poultry and whole vegetables, which you cook to the desired degree of doneness.

But back to the rat:

The rat was found last week at a branch of the chain, Xiabu Xiabu, in Weifang, a city in the eastern province of Shandong. A local newspaper reported the incident on Friday and video footage of the customer picking the rat out with chopsticks circulated on Chinese social media all weekend.

By the close of trading on Tuesday, shares in the chain’s parent company, Xiabuxiabu Catering Management, had fallen almost 12.5 percent, at one point dropping to their lowest in nearly a year. In all, the discovery of the rat had knocked about $190 million off the market value of the business, which is publicly traded in Hong Kong. The company’s shares recovered somewhat on Wednesday, gaining around 3 percent.

The article goes on to note that the dish has been (was?) enjoying something of a revival. Ah, well, back to chow fun, I imagine. But, please, hold the rat.

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