Mad as a March hare.
As in Alice in Wonderland.
The March Hare always behaved as though it was tea-time.
But it goes further back than that.
Earliest notation was around 1500 in the poem Blowbol’s Test:
Thanne ey begyn to swere and to stare, And be as braynles as a Marshe hare.
[Then they begin to swerve and to stare, And be as brainless as a March hare.]
Which is where “hare brained” comes from.
In Europe, the hare bred during March and beyond.
That sounds odd.
The hair bread.
And they would do mad things, such as jump vertically into the air.
For no reason.
Or box with other hares.
Bugs Bunny comes to mind.
Hey, what’s up, Doc?
Actually, the female boxes with the male.
She fends off unwanted admirers.
It’s part of the courtship.
And the rejected male sticks his tongue out at her.
So…those who observed all this considered them mad.
And it stuck.
That’s 500 years of madness.
Hares are jackrabbits.
No cute bunny here.
Or floppy ears.
Or soft bunny fur.
Their hare hair resembles a deer.
Or a kangaroo.
Come to think of it, they kinda act like kangaroos.
Hares differ in taste than rabbit.
Dark meat more like beef than chicken.
But both do well braised for a good long while.
And are popular meat in England, Italy, Greece, Germany, France, and Spain.
To name a few.
The classic Jugged Hare or Civet of Hare recipe dates back also 500 years.
Somebody got wise.
Take a mad March hare.
Catch it if you can.
Marinate it in wine and brandy for two days.
Drink plenty of same while you wait.
Then cook gently for three hours.
You’ll need a Dutch oven and a food mill.
Chanterelle mushrooms, cream, and the liver come into play.
As does bacon, goose fat, and rye flour.
And carrots, celery, onions.
Parsley, rosemary, and thyme.
Browning, braising, baking, stewing.
March hare extraordinaire.
Renee Walker is a poet, writer, and real estate broker on the Square with her canine assistant, Buster.