Pot Luck

PSA: This Rat Fetus Was Not Found in Timmy Chan's Fried Rice

The Original Timmy Chan's on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (a.k.a. Timmy Chan's Chicken & Rice) may have only been inspected by the City of Houston Health Department once since November 2010, but that inspection didn't turn up anything that we'd call remotely offensive. And that Timmy Chan's on MLK almost certainly didn't serve a customer a rat fetus in their fried rice, as several news outlets were reporting this week.

The image above has been floating around the Internet for many weeks now, and each time it pops up on Facebook or a news outlet's Web site, it's attributed to a different restaurant in a different city. The fried rice with complimentary rat fetus was most recently attributed to a Chinese food court stand in a Lafayette mall earlier in April, and before that to Park City Chinese Food in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as the photo worked its way west across the country.

This didn't stop Houston Hip Hop News from reporting on its Facebook page that the rat fetus was found in a dish of fried rice from Houston legend Timmy Chan's, a chicken and fried rice with locations throughout the city. The old racist paranoias surrounding Chinese food and rat-, cat- or dog-based meat replacements were out in full force in the comments section of the Houston Hip Hop News Facebook page.

"Y'all stop hating Chinese been feeding us rats and other animals since we started eating their food," wrote David Williams, who referred to the rat fetus as "extra" protein.

"Rats are a big thing to eat they love eating RATS in other countries lol," elaborated a woman named Debbie TLady Green.

A final poignant reminder that culinary xenophobia is still alive and well came from a woman (?) calling herself Bigpretty Tittiez Allinyourface, who wrote:

also, before Marvin Zindler(Channel 13) passed away, he did a report where they went around to fast food Chinese restaurants in Houston and were finding frozen skinless big rats in freezer packaged as meat. Better stop eating at these nasty ass places, you don't know what that shit be!

Ira Glass couldn't have said it better.

Remember, folks: Not everything you read on Facebook is real. But The Original Timmy Chan's on MLK does have four stars on Yelp -- and not for having rat-fried rice.

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Katharine Shilcutt