Eating a Royal Rat

I can now say that I have eaten rat. But before getting grossed out, realize that the gibnut (also known as a paca) is a local delicacy in Belize. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II was served gibnut during her 1985 visit. That’s why the oversized rodent is now known as royal rat in Belize.

When I went to Benny’s Kitchen outside Xunantunich, it was offered as the special of the day. I knew I had to try it, especially since the menu states gibnut isn’t available all the time.

The meal came. I saw the brown meat brushing up against a hearty serving of rice and beans and salad. It looked tasty after spending the last three hours climbing Mayan ruins.

Gibnut, a.k.a. “royal rat.”

I made sure the camera was rolling and cut into the rodent. The meat was extremely tasty and tender. I cut off a piece for another bite and was comfortable that nothing would happen. I told the photographer to turn off the camera and reached for a drink of water. That’s when the most bitter aftertaste I have ever experienced flooded my mouth.

“God, that’s disgusting!” I shouted. “That’s horrible!”

Quickly, I grabbed some hot sauce to cover the gibnut. This masked any aftertaste from the rat, and I was able to finish the meal without any more outbursts.

Would I order royal rat again? Probably not. But at least I tried something new.

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