Rabbit stew ramblings

September 25, 2006

Rabbit in saute pan

Before food can taste good, it has to be ‘good to think with’. My ex Elisabeth used to tell me that. She was an anthropologist of food and applied academic analysis to our meals together. Which wasn’t always good for the digestion.

She specialised in studying the eating habits of the Jewish diaspora in Argentina. As far as I could tell her research mainly involved snooping around in other people’s fridges. Sounded like a good gig to me.

A few nights ago I cooked up a Rabbit stew from Twelve, this week’s glossy, aspirational cookbook of choice. It was an unusual recipe – a red wine braise with a good quanitity of wine vinegar, sugar and sultanas added at the last minute. A sweet and sour concoction, with echoes of antique Roman flavours. I sort of liked it but Maths chick didn’t rate it.

And for some reason it took us down high-fallutin’ avenues of conversation. Some meals can do that.

And what we discussed was this: why does some stuff, like, taste good, like…er…and other flavours like, are OK but…you know…er… don’t taste so great.

I suggested it’s because we all have a memory of flavours and textures built up over centuries, and somehow passed down through a collective consciousness. Like the way our bodies respond to different rhythyms and melodies depending on our cultural inheritance. Did this dish taste odd because the combination of vinegar, wine, fruit and meat is foreign to the British culinary folk memory? Perhaps it simply wasn’t ‘good to think with’.

Maths chick reckoned it was just because the rabbit was over-cooked and dry, there was too much vinegar and the sauce was thin. Makes a nice photo though, dunnit?

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6 Responses to “Rabbit stew ramblings”

  1. oldbirdofdevon Says:

    Had rabbit stew myself a week ago. Cooked it in cider with tarragon, which I’m sure you’ve tried already. I think the theory of cultural memory is interesting and could explain why I’ll never enjoy sushi, for example. I know it’s food, Jim, but not as we know it. Likewise it’s hard to imagine an impeccably groomed Japanese lady tucking into the road-kill aesthetic that is the full English breakfast, with bean juice and egg yolk swirling in greasy eddies around a sausage….

  2. FactoBrunt Says:

    Maths people are so logical *rolls eyes* 🙂 Never had rabbit, myself. Does it taste like chicken?

  3. crzy_rgntnn Says:

    According to Wikipedia, Argentina’s Jewish community is the largest in Latin America and fifth worldwide. (Just adding a few more words to be picked up by the search engines…)

  4. gastropunk Says:

    oldbirdofdevon, mmmm…. ‘bean juice and egg yolk swirling in greasy eddies’… that’s got me hankering after a full fry-up for tea tonight… also, I agree on the sushi – the only redeeming feature for me is the violent green horseradish sauce you get to dunk everything in… but then horseradish may be one of the few ingredients common to both Japanese and British cultural memories…

  5. gastropunk Says:

    factobrunt, yep – you guessed it, rabbit tastes just like chicken, with an added hint of bunny-ness. i recommend you give it a go – particularly if you find some fresh roadkill – throw it in the boot, hang it in your shed for a couple of days then bung it in a stew… you could even rent a Watership Down DVD and make a themed evening out of it…

  6. gastropunk Says:

    crzy, thanks for the help with the search engine optimisation – always good to have a fellow web professional helping improve the stats 🙂


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