Easter eggs and a hare's nest
MORE than 50 years ago, I faced the novelty of a supper of jugged hare in a Meath farm kitchen -- to pay for my sins. Earlier, I had killed the poor creature as it crossed the road.
Food was not thrown out. A half bottle of port was added by the generous hosts to a dish that was new to me and, I recall, somewhat heavy going -- the meat being much darker than rabbit.
In the province of Alentejo in Portugal, on dry plains of scattered holm and cork oak, black pigs forage where people have lived for centuries on land that would not support thin cows in Ireland.
In quiet villages, narrow, hilly streets rise to churches with great white stork nests on roofs and belfries.
Small family-run restaurants are proud of their cooking. The food is simple and substantial, with potatoes and beans and cress from an adjoining garden and a meat dish which might be a casserole of leverets: young hares.
How had they been captured, the question occurred to me. To my local hosts, the meat could have been pigeon breasts, another meal ingredient taken from the wild.
I considered this might be a seasonal dish as the 'Easter bunny' of folklore was really a hare, although this, I thought, was a tradition more from northern Europe than the Iberian peninsula.
In a Dublin shop window, I've seen German-made wood toy bunny-hares, some holding toy eggs, in an Easter-theme display. There were also small nests of eggs in faux hay and twigs, linking hares and birds.