Sichuan is a remote province, long isolated by mountain ranges, so its traditions are quite unique. "Bunny brains" is one of the specialties of the region, and outside Sichuan it can only be found in a few restaurants in Beijing.
However, in Shichuan’s capital, Chengdu rabbit heads are a common snack and sold from innumerable stalls in the streets of the city and at night markets.
The rabbit head recipe seems simple, but requires a well-established technique, restaurant chef Yin Dingjun told AFP.
“You have to drain the rabbits of their blood, then remove the guts before marinating the head in a broth for several hours,” he said.
Diners then use their teeth to gnaw at the flesh. They crack open the skulls covered in sauce, suck out the brain and nibble on the cheeks.
In Sichuanese dialect, eating rabbit head is slang for French kissing.
For people in Sichuan, playing with your food is part of the fun, she said, adding they like “the grapple factor,” Fuchsia Dunlop, a London-based expert in Chinese gastronomy said as quoted by AFP.
“Using your fingers and teeth to get a little bit of meat, it’s part of the pleasure.”
Chinese farms cannot cope with the colossal local demand, and as a result, nearly 20 percent of rabbit heads are imported from Europe, mainly from Italy and France.
However, it is difficult to expect that that the taste for the treat will expand beyond Sichuan in the foreseeable future.
Rabbits are regarded as cute by the Chinese and even feature in Chinese mythology – for example, a “jade rabbit” that lives on the moon.
“A lot of people outside our province do not dare taste rabbit heads, because the rabbit heads do look quite terrifying,” AFP cites Rong Lipeng, deputy chairman of Hage, China’s leading supplier of rabbit meat and products.
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