This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
The Rabbit, Lepus Cuniculus, which we know so well in its wild state as a most prolific little animal, and of much popularity as a food for the working classes, "thrives best," says Fuller, "on barren ground, and grows fattest in the hardest frosts: their flesh is fine and wholesome." Both this animal and the hare affect some persons who partake of either, with nettlerash, or spasmodic asthma. Rabbit pie made without a hole in the top crust to let ptomainic vapours escape, as generated by the flesh whilst being baked, has proved actually poisonous in several recorded cases. "Talbotays" was a former sauce taken with rabbits and hares, being concocted of the blood, with pepper, salt, and ale. In Yorkshire there is a familiar nursery rhyme:-
"Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit pie, Come my ladies, come and buy, Else your babies they will cry".
Rabbit flesh somewhat resembles fowl. The thin sides about the ribs of a rabbit, and the flabby belly flanks are always of a bad taste, and should be removed in the trimming of the animal, so as not to be used. For the same reason it is never advisable to fill a rabbit with stuffing inside the belly. Likewise care should be exercised only to approve of a sound liver for cooking, as free from nodules, or discoloured spots. In Lear's Book of Nonsense (about which Ruskin pronounced, "The Book of Nonsense, by Edward Lear, with its corollary carols, inimitable and refreshing, and perfect rhythm, is surely the most innocent and beneficial of all such books ") occurs the quaint jingle:-
"There was an old person whose habits Induced him to feed upon rabbits; When he'd eaten eighteen, he turned perfectly green, Upon which he relinquished those habits".