Bunny Day, It’s A Bonne Idée
What’s a Bunny Day, if not a Festival to celebrate the Glory of the Rabbit in Gastronomy and Nature? What’s a bonne idée? A good idea. What’s the connection? They’re pronounced the same way. So now, the next time you’re in a meeting and you think saying “good idea” would be too prosaic, you can say Bunny Day. And, of course, having a day devoted to bunnies in all their glory is also a very good idea.
The seal above belongs to the Order of the Knights of the Burrow, the Brotherhood of the Burrow and the Hutch.
This is delightfully serious business, as our friends Christian and Alice can attest. Serious, as in they organized a day that included a rabbit show and sale, a rabbit cooking contest, and a community rabbit meal for several hundred people. Delightful, as in I want to join the Brotherhood myself just so I too can have a hat with ears, like Alice.
I really don’t know what I should do first, show you the glorious bunny gastronomy, or the little beauties themselves. Just remember that the bunnies you are about to see are not the bunnies on the plate. These are really special bunnies, sold to breeders of ancient bunnydom, and as pets. There’s no use even thinking about eating these bunnies, they’re much too beautiful.
We’re talking about bunnies like the Chamois de Thuringe,
the Argenté de Champagne,
the Fauve de Bourgogne,
the Géant Papillon Français,
and the Nain Russe. These are but a few examples of bunny pulchritude, as seen in nature.
Then we pass, inevitably, to the gastronomic angle, in the form of a competition for mostly apprentice chefs to create rabbit dishes to be served cold. These were judged strictly, according to seasoning, originality of presentation, appropriateness of garnishes, excellence of sauces, and so on. I know all this because, ta da, I was invited to be on the panel of chefs. Real French chefs, that is, to whom the presence of an “American journalist” was an unexpected turn of events; I had a blast in any case, even if my credentials as a chef were suspect. There were 15 different dishes to taste and evaluate, and wine to help the process along, of course, since all of this took place before lunch, namely, at 10:30 in the morning. Let me just say that if you have to eat rabbit early in the morning, a little wine doesn’t hurt, and more is better.
This dish, one of my favorites, was actually submitted by an amateur. I thought it held up really well against the more cheffy preparations like
this little marvel.
This dish taught me the expression “plus beau que bon” or looks better than it tastes.
There were apprentice chef-type excesses like this riot of color,
and this morbid little number. I thought this one was kind of interesting to look at, but the French chefs were gagging and tutting over it from the get go.
They really tended to prefer the most classic preparations, like this terrine, which was an education in itself. My high marks for one delicious dish that was full of ginger and mustard seeds and reminded me of a rabbit in the wide open spaces earned me a rather contemptuous nose twitch from the chef sitting next to me. That’s ok, I too can twitch my nose with the best of the bunnies, but why bother?
There were bunnies paraded through the streets,
lots of gorgeous guys in costume,
our friend Chantal who walked 20 kilometers to pay homage to all things rabbit,
and even bunny wine, of which we all had rather a lot. It was, all day long, totally a Bonne Idée!