I suppose I always knew it would happen eventually. It was just a matter of when.
I mean, D’s been raving about the rabbit paella in Barcelona for practically as long as I’ve known him. “I’m taking you there someday, and you’re going to share it with me.”
I can’t though. Even though I have a pretty open mind about trying new foods while traveling (though I’m pretty sure there’s no way I’m going to eat bugs), I absolutely refuse to eat bunny.
For the past 6+ years, I’ve cared for and loved 2 little bunnies that I adopted. Most people don’t see rabbits as real pets (and don’t even get me started on how much it pisses me off when kids get baby bunnies for Easter, only to discard them weeks later). But I’ve come to understand how loving they are, and I loved them unconditionally in return (even through the mornings I woke up in pee and the hundreds of dollars they destroyed with their chewing). They always made me laugh with their silly antics and constant enthusiasm for food. On days when I felt depressed, there’s no better cure than warm little bunny kisses. Nor is there a better morning alarm than tiny bunny feet trampling all over me.
I consider re-homing them to be the single biggest sacrifice I made for traveling. More than quitting my job and pension plan (there will be more). More than falling out with my family (we’ll all get over it someday). But I loved Sam and Stella with all my heart, and I will never have them back.
Don’t worry. They went to a really good home, which is the only reason why I’m not wrecked with guilt, crying in fetal position on a daily basis.
Anyway, we discovered a new favorite restaurant in Montevideo, or maybe even in the world – Foc. Anything touched by the chef, who previously owned one of Spain’s best restaurants, is pure magic. A spoonful of his simple mushroom risotto is an explosion of flavor and complexity. A chocolate cake becomes liquid sin… oozing melty lava and swimming in an caramel ocean.
The menu is intentionally simple, consisting only of a few items. But the thing to get is his dish of the day, ever-changing daily, written on the chalkboard in colorful script. We look forward to be surprised whenever we go.
One day as we walk in, we see it. Written on that chalkboard is conejo. Or rabbit.
Or to be more precise: it’s rabbit confit, over sweet potato puree with a chocolate reduction sauce.
“I really recommend it,” our waiter tells us. “It’s really good.”
I don’t doubt him. I forgot to mention that Foc is a Catalan restaurant, and the chef was trained in Spain, where eating rabbit is as normal as eating chicken feet in China. It’s bound to be delicious.
“That’s what I want.” D says right away.
“Great! Two?” The waiter looks at me. I’m dumbstruck as I try to sort out my inner conflict between eating my precious pets and trying really good food.
“She can’t,” D helps out, sensing my discomfort. “She had pet rabbits, so she can’t.”
So I end up ordering pasta off the regular menu.
Our dishes arrive. My shrimp pesto pasta looks amazing, the best I’ve ever had. But it’s clear that the star of the day is the rabbit dish. A big meaty breast chunk and half a hind quarter over mashed sweet potatoes, and all drizzled with a thick chocolate sauce. So rich that the heavenly smell wafts over to my side of the table as D cuts into the meat.
I’m horrified as he tears into the meat, but I also can’t help asking how it tastes.
“It’s actually really good. Just try a bit.” D says as he dangles his fork in front of me, a little biteful of meat speared on the end.
“I can’t. Put it here for now.” I point to the bread plate.
As much as I want to stick to my guns and not eat bunny, I remember that travel is all about opening yourself to new experiences. Letting go of old prejudices. Tearing down old boundaries and discovering new horizons. Testing limits and trying new things. Even things you never thought you would do.
And I tell myself that my bunnies are happily frolicking in the grass and being spoiled rotten by their new mama… and NOT drizzled in chocolate sauce on a dish in front of me.
And quite honestly, the delicious smell and tender meat are really taunting me to just take a bite too. So finally, when I feel ready, I pick up the little piece off of the bread plate and plop it into my mouth. Chew and swallow.
And you know what? It tastes just like chicken. :)
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want more. Who knows, maybe by the time we make it to Spain, I’ll have mustered up the courage to share that rabbit paella with him.
But judging on how guilty I felt, probably not.
Big thanks to my friend Ron for spending a day shooting pictures of Sam and Stella (the 1st picture), so that I would have gorgeous pictures to remember them by!
This post is part of the #sundaytraveler series with Pack Me To, and don’t forget to support all the other participating blogs (links at the bottom of post)!