Eulogy for the Easter Bunny

(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Véronique PAGNIER (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0

What a fine fellow was Peter Cottontail, that fluffy little bunny who delighted us as children by bringing chocolate Easter eggs. Hoppin’ down the bunny trail…Shame he decided to hop across the pond to France. Perhaps he didn’t speak the local lingo? When he said he was delivering Easter candy, perhaps something got lost in translation? It must have sounded like “chop off my head and put it in the frying pan.”

The first time I ever ate rabbit was at Easter Sunday lunch chez my beaux-parents. Seeing those little body parts floating in wine sauce was a little shocking to my anglophone sensibilities: not that I object to eating our furry friends on principle, just that rabbit had never been on the menu before.

Rabbit is traditionally eaten not just at Easter (when lamb is the more traditional dish) but all year long in France. It is appreciated for its lean white meat and good value — rabbit can be bought very cheaply and served in dozens of ways.

The French have no notion of the Easter bunny. The tradition in France is that the church bells, les cloches, fly off to Rome and return for Pâques with chocolates for the children.

And when the French sit down to Sunday lunch, with the Easter bunny as the guest of honor, no effort is made to soften the blow for those with finer sentiments. I remember that Beau-père served up the dish on a lovely platter, the tiny head one of several parts. My mother-in-law had a penchant for la tête. It was finicky, so she picked it up and ate it with her fingers, finely picking the bones with her teeth.

He was a good rabbit. May his memory live on in our hearts.

Bon appétit et Joyeuses Pâques!

18 comments

  1. wanderingcows · April 20, 2014

    That’s really interesting. I hadn’t thought about it much, but assumed the Easter bunny was universal in the Christian world !

    • MELewis · April 20, 2014

      So did I until I came to France and discovered the only rabbit they’d heard of was on the menu. And I’ve also learned that the ‘cloches’ are the tradition in Italy and other European countries. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Mirza Usman · April 20, 2014

    Delicious

  3. davidprosser · April 20, 2014

    RIP the Cottontail family and the Easter Bunny.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • MELewis · April 20, 2014

      Your condolences are most appreciated. Happy Easter to you and yours, David!

  4. Osyth · April 20, 2014

    I love rabbits. I also love rabbit. But not la tete – that is quite disgusting. But then again – my French friends consider my penchant for mint sauce with lamb perfectly ridiculous. The Bells have started ringing here in Champs – joyeux paques!

    • MELewis · April 20, 2014

      Merci! Hope you enjoy your mint sauce or whatever is on the Easter menu!

  5. 365thingsiloveaboutfrance.com · April 20, 2014

    Hmmm…never had the head of the bunny served up, and I’m not sure how I would handle that situation. Was it covered in a delicious sauce at least? Joyeuse Pâques!

    • MELewis · April 20, 2014

      Absolutely. Sauce is de rigueur! Happy Easter to you, too!

  6. Food,Photography & France · April 20, 2014

    So good….I very much like rabbit….it never gets cooked here because i’m alone in that sentiment in our family:)

    • MELewis · April 20, 2014

      How sad for you! And we all know there’s no such thing as a lone rabbit so I guess there’s nothing to be done.

  7. Margo Lestz · April 20, 2014

    Well, this explains the mystery of why the flying bells deliver the eggs – they ate the bunny!

    • MELewis · January 21, 2016

      Ha, ha…looking back at this post I only now see your comment. Good explanation! x

  8. Anne · April 21, 2014

    I like eating rabbit (probably because I have never really liked red meat) but that is not what we cook when we have guests for dinner because not everybody likes it, even in France !
    It must have felt really weird when you had to eat rabbit for the first time as an adult ! It is not that easy to eat something that is not part of our “culture”.

    • MELewis · April 21, 2014

      It was indeed a little challenging at the time but I felt comfortable enough with my in-laws to have told them if I’d really not wanted to try it. Now I’m glad I did! It’s not something I eat all the time but it’s a great alternative to chicken…

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