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December 19, 1996|CHARLES PERRY

The Rat That Meowed

Now that it's winter, muskrat-trapping is legal on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The large aquatic rodents--they run about a foot long, not counting a scaly tail adapted to swimming, and weigh more than a pound--can be found in marshes and streams all over the country. But it's mostly on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay that people are really fond of eating them.

Restaurants in eastern Maryland serve "rats," though in deference to the tender feelings of outlanders, they tend to call them "marsh rabbits." The local seafood stores sell muskrat too, always with the head attached. That's so you can be sure nobody's fobbing off a cat on you.

Green Eggs

There are caviars and there are caviars. The famous kind is the eggs of the sturgeon, but the eggs of many other fish are eaten.

So in the spirit of our new age of flavored waters and flavored martinis, a Chicago-based company called Carolyn Collins Caviar is producing flavored caviars. There's a fresh ginger-infused version of the familiar golden caviar of whitefish, a spicy Cajun-style roe of bowfin and two flavored flying fish caviars. One is Caribbean style, the other is dosed with wasabi (Japanese horseradish), which turns it neon green.

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