A lot of people have asked me if I’m afraid about my adventure in France: afraid of leaving my job, afraid of being alone, afraid of getting lost, afraid of not knowing anybody, afraid of not being fluent in the language. Honestly, I haven’t been. But I have been afraid of cutting up a bunny rabbit and then having to eat it.
And per a script only the Universe could write, my first lesson at One Rue Tatin was le lapin. There it was, skinned on a plate, just waiting for me. I had already planned my “sick” day at Le Cordon Bleu, strategizing how I would get out of the rabbit lesson without upsetting a hot-tempered chef. But, in the warmth of Susan’s kitchen, it was an ideal time to jump in and practice. Beyoncé uses the stage name Sasha Fierce when she performs, so I created an alter ego for hacking up meat in the kitchen –Amélie Sharp.
Amélie hacked off the leg and slid in a few lemon slices and bay leaves. The trick here is to cut off the head immediately so it looks more like a piece of raw chicken and less like the mother of my beloved Bun Bun (if you haven’t met her, or it’s been awhile, she’s the pale pink stuffed-with-cotton bunny rabbit that has sat on my bed for the last 27 years). I trussed le lapin like a little Christmas present then Susan untied my bow to make a more functional knot.
Rabbits are herbivores and use feed much more efficiently than cows – rabbits need only half the feed to produce a pound of meat – and they populate like…err…rabbits…so they’re bountiful. From a sustainability perspective, rabbit is a great meat choice. But if you’re looking for jellybeans in your Easter basket, I don't recommend it.
Today, our lunch started with an apéritif in the garden: rosé, almonds in honey and lemon thyme, peppered breadsticks, and…rabbit liver. Lindsay wouldn’t eat rabbit liver. But Amélie would. And so she did. Had I not known what it was, I would have eaten a second piece. Our entrée, or starter, was a caprese salad made with tiny tubes of heirloom tomato (made with a small apple corer and just as fancy as it sounds) and lemon zest, and our plat principal, main course, was the rest of the rabbit, drizzled in chili vinaigrette, followed by a green salad, a cheese course, and finally dessert: a rustic nectarine tart. And that’s how the French do it.
Lunch and dinner, we will continue to eat this way all week. In between, Susan will serve espresso in antique French teacups as my classmate and I chop, bake and sauté the afternoon away.