Old habits die hard, eh?

Three people have been arrested in southern Italy after a police raid on a cannabis farm led to the discovery of hundreds of dead and alive protected dormice apparently being eaten by local mafia as part of ritual peace-making dinners.

On top of 235 caracasses stuffed in a freezer, police found several cages of live dormice that were being fattened up for the kill. Three people were arrested on suspicion of capturing and slaughtering a protected species.

Despite being illegal to hunt or eat, dormice are a popular delicacy in parts of southern Italy and some restaurants serve them up in secret, keeping their fluffy tails intact so that they are distinguishable from other mice.

We have recipes from the area that are at least 2,000 years old.

And, of course, if they’re raising them for consumption then they’re hardly damaging the wild population, are they? Sorta like saying stop eating cows in order to save the aurochs.

23 thoughts on “Old habits die hard, eh?”

  1. There are two reasons why breeding endangered animals for food is banned
    1) There is nothing to stop farmers supplementing their output with hunting and it would be hard to detect
    2) – And I have been told this “Don’t be silly that is the sort of thing Prince Anne would say.”
    Obviously 1) is reasonable and 2) is nut.

  2. Tough choices for our age. Which is worst:

    1 The Mafia,
    2 Cannabis farming,
    3 Breeding dormice.

    However, you could also look at it from the Al Capone angle – it’s easier to imprison a violent psychopath for tax evasion. If they’d got him for breeding dormice, it would be worth some kind of celebration, surely?

  3. Popular delicacy.

    Dormice aren’t very big. Not a lot of meat on one of them.

    235 of the little buggers in a freezer.

    Ritual peace-making dinners between the Mafia.

    Just how many Mafiosi are there such that they are having ritual peace making suppers?

    Why doesn’t the place look like downtown Mogadishu?

  4. These are presumably ‘edible dormouse’es , known as ‘glis glis’. They are more kin to squirrels than other mice. They are not native here, but there is an established population in Berkshire (close to chequers).
    I only know all this because an ex-colleague lived there and was plagued by them.

  5. Why doesn’t the place look like downtown Mogadishu?

    Because the Mafia are stationary bandits, whereas in Mogadishu the bad guys are roving bandits.

  6. These are presumably ‘edible dormouse’es , known as ‘glis glis’. They are more kin to squirrels than other mice. They are not native here, but there is an established population in Berkshire (close to chequers).
    I only know all this because an ex-colleague lived there and was plagued by them.

    Hertfordshire too. Some idiot brought them over in the 19C or something and now they are a plague.

  7. I must apologise to my cat for turning down the morsels she has brought me over the years. No wonder she scratches me occasionally, I’ve disrespected the family.

  8. @johnnybonk
    It’s Buckinghamshire, please, not Berkshire. If anyone wishes to find out what dormouse* tastes like, I usually kill several in my loft each year (now is when they head indoors to hibernate for 7 months, their German name is Siebenschläfer). They are, by a twist of civil service logic, both a protected and a pest species, so it used to be illegal to either kill them (without a licence, restricted to pest controllers) or capture and release them. These days, anyone can download a licence from the Environment Agency.

    * a Glis glis is genuinely a dormouse, but resembles a small squirrel, with which they are often confused

  9. Just for Dennis who knows little about the USA

    “Rat stew is a traditional American dish originating from West Virginia, where people use various traps, never poison, to catch the key ingredient for the stew – a rat. Once they’ve been cleaned, skinned, and chopped, pieces of rat meat are dropped into a broth with garlic, wild onions, and similar local vegetables.

    The stew is usually served at gatherings or as a dinner at home. In Marlinton, West Virginia, there’s even an annual roadkill cookoff showcasing this stew and similar dishes”

  10. Dennis, Your Guide To The USA

    Karen –

    Ever notice that whenever I point out wogs doing stupid, you demand to see the manager? I made no claim of septic superiority. All I said was that I wasn’t surprised that wogs would consider rodents a delicacy. Hell, lots of them eat snails and brag about it.

    Pointing out that septics do stupid as well doesn’t change the fact that wogs are doing stupid. And it misses the point of my comment as well.

    Anyway if you’d ever been to West Virginia, you’d understand why the other 49 states are reluctant to follow its lead on anything. Especially rodent stew.

  11. an established population in B[ucks] (close to chequers).

    Conjuring up visions of dormice peace suppers hosted by Prime Ministers

  12. BiS

    Sorry to be a pendant, but it should really be dwarfs .

    That JR Hartley bloke invented dwarves as a term to differentiate them as a race ( dwarrow in his mythology) as opposed to being just little people. It has passed into the language, which is quite impressive.

  13. Even better. It seems that you just can’t stop Merkins eating rodents. Why am I not surprised?

    https://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/cast-iron-chef/how-cook-raccoon-recipe-brined-bandit-and-sweet-potato-hash/

    “As recently as my 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking, (originally published in 1931 during the Great Depression by German immigrant, Irma von Starkloff Rombauer), a section was still dedicated to the preparation of wild game that included not only critters mentioned above, but beaver tail, wild boar head, woodchuck, and armadillo, too.”

  14. If I understand The Major correctly, ‘Dagoes’ are Spanish. Italians are ‘Wops’.

    This is of course from the Comic Messiah’s Greatest Half Hour, so accurate beyond question. Now then, your hor d’oevres….which must be obeyed… (etc)

  15. Witchie, surely it was the then Prince of Wales, a century or so ago, who pointed out the wogs began at Calais.

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