A NIGHT OUT WITH RECYCLED RABBIT (March 5/12)

“What’s recycled rabbit?” a friend asked. “I don’t know whether to try it or not.”

“Taste it,” I said. “I guarantee you’ll like it.”

We were at the local wildlife Association’s annual wild game night, an event the group holds every February. The friend had just sampled some smoked rainbow trout and was eyeing a platter of meat labelled “recycled rabbit.” The meat on the platter looked like pieces of cut up pheasant or maybe chicken and I was tempted to tell the friend it was one or the other, just to get him to sample it.

Resisting temptation, I decided to tell the friend what the meat really was. “It’s bobcat,” I said. “Get it? Recycled rabbit.”

The friend made a face but he took a piece of the bobcat off the platter, popped it into his mouth, chewed on it and smiled. “Hey, it is good,” he said. “First time I ever ate a cat.”

The first time I ate recycled rabbit I was reluctant to try it as well, after I asked what it was. The thought of eating cat meat kind of turned me off. However, while the taste of bobcat meat is difficult to describe – partridge and pheasant it ain’t – it really isn’t all that bad. Most people make a face when they hear that recycled rabbit is bobcat meat but the frowns usually turn to smiles after they sample it.

Recycled rabbit was the only strange and unusual fare at the Association’s wild game night this February. Association members generally bring a mixed bag of wild game dishes to the event; smoked salmon, venison hors d’oeuvres, moose meat mince pies and pheasant breast are a few of the dishes I recall sampling at previous wild game nights and this event was no exception.

Besides the recycled rabbit, I had the pleasure of sampling smoked pheasant, smoked salmon with cream cheese and smoked rainbow trout – all dishes fit for a king, if I have to use a cliché. I went back a couple of times to a platter that held brook trout pate and I almost didn’t get a taste of the venison meatballs it went that fast.

Once word got around that recycled rabbit was bobcat meat, it wasn’t devoured as quickly as the other wild game dishes. However, one of my friends, whose name is unmentionable, enjoyed the dish immensely and dipped into the platter holding the cat meat several times. “I never knew cat would taste that good,” he said. Smacking his lips, and with a far away look in his eyes, he said “I wonder if common old housecat would taste as great.”

“Don’t go there,” I said.

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