How A Rabbit Taught Me to Cook

Rabbit, Lapin à la Moutarde à l’Ancienne

Francois de Melogue
5 min readMay 5, 2022

I was no older than the tender age of 7 when I first ate rabbit. I remember the day quite distinctly. Not only was it the single defining moment when I knew I would grow to be a chef, but also they were my pet rabbits.

Rabbit, Lapin à la Moutarde à l’Ancienne, Photo by Francois de Melogue 2022

The day started as innocently as any other. I awoke early and enjoyed a bowl of hot cocoa as I listened to the birds singing. We lived in an old stone house that butted up against a wheat field with a small stream running through it. I liked to play at the edge of the field, especially while waiting impatiently for my mother to finish her coffee and get dressed.

It was a widely held belief that the ground near the stream was quicksand. My friends traded anecdotal stories about some unlucky animal or person that died a slow gruesome death in the sand. Despite the perils, I knew playing near there would make my mother very anxious so she dressed quicker.

My mother and I walked up the hill to the family auberge where the real fun was to be had. The air around the auberge was infused with an intoxicating mix of boxwoods and simmering stews. My daily routine began by going into the kitchen to ask one of the cooks for a few carrots to feed my rabbits. I usually stood in the middle, kind of obtrusively, hoping to get a taste of an apple sorbet being made or a bite of something cooking before being shooed out. Today felt a bit odd. Normally, the cooks were a bit gruff but instead, they seemed almost sympathetic and kind. Through the kitchen backdoor, I could see both my grandfather and chef Daniel gathered by the rabbit cage chatting.

My grandfather Andre and I at the Auberge

My grandfather looked rather solemn as I approached the empty cage. He explained in a most tender voice that my two beloved rabbits had escaped during the night. Apparently, they picked the lock and ran free. He conceded that it was a monumental loss and tried to console me by explaining they were probably living their best life. No doubt those two rascals were eating fresh carrots from the farmers’ fields surrounding the old town of Vieux Mareuil.

Francois de Melogue

My earliest attempt at cookery began with the filleting of my sister's goldfish at age 2 and cooking my pet rabbits by age 7. Life has been downhill ever since.