Eating the Easter Bunny not unusual in bygone days
By Don Bachmann Orlean
“Yum, yum,” said the bunny to a nibble in the patch;
“Oh, no,” said the gardener to the bunny’s trespass.
“Bang, bang,” went the shotgun to settle the impasse;
And, that is what led to our Easter repast.
Gourmet shoppers of today know that a plump rabbit is regarded as a delicacy. It is difficult to find except in a well-stocked specialty market. It wasn’t always that way; we used to regard rabbit as the common man’s staple to supplement a meagre country diet … a diet that was often low on meat.
Some of us can remember a father or uncle with his shotgun and his dogs out hunting the dinner meal … usually a rabbit or an occasional pheasant. We would sit in hopeful expectation praying he would be successful. Sometimes we could hear — or imagined that we could hear — the dogs barking and the report of the rifle indicating that meat would be on the dinner menu.
Back then rabbit was simple fare seasoned with salt and pepper and either stewed or roasted in the oven. It tended to taste gamey and tough; but, it was also filling and satisfying.
Today it is a bit different; actually, it is quite a bit different. This is especially so if the rabbit is being prepared by an Italian gourmet chef and intended for a gathering of food connoisseurs … connoisseurs who can fully discern and appreciate his culinary skills and his care in presentation.
Now, as to the menu, one must first delight the palate with complementary offerings. The antipasto consisted of assorted cheeses, polenta topped with cremini mushroom ragu and melted fontina cheese, spinach calzone, and rabbit liver pate with fig jam on crostini. This prepared one for a main course of risotto with mixed spring vegetables, asparagus drizzled with olive oil, and the chef’s magnum opus – a rabbit braised in white wine sauce with hand-grown fresh herbs. And, for dessert; a sponge cake topped with strawberries macerated in Marsala wine and panacotta.
Everything was superb, and the rabbit met a noble end at the hands of a culinary artist.
Now, when I relayed my gastric experience to my neighbor’s family, the children immediately became accusatory. They said, “How could you eat the Easter Bunny? … How gross.” I responded by saying, “The Easter Bunny may be dead and gone, but he certainly was appreciated.” My quip went unappreciated, and further explanation did not placate their objections or chastisement.
And so in contrition, I would like to offer tribute to the main contributor to our feast; I would like to acknowledge the rabbit. If it wasn’t for its penchant to hop over garden walls in the pursuit of fresh vegetable delights, we would probably have been eating country ham instead. Ergo to the rabbit, I say, “Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice, and I hope to enjoy another relation of yours next year.”
Buon appetito ... and keep your eyes open for stray rabbits.