Although rabbit meat has great fans, a lot of people in the western world are not really familiar with it. It is consumed in areas around the Mediterranean, such as Spain, southern France and Italy. However, we believe that rabbit meat reaches the peak of its popularity in Crete; almost every household in the countryside breeds rabbits (which multiply rapidly!) for regular consumption.
Rabbit has white meat and is delicious. It does not taste like chicken, it rather has its own characteristic taste that has a lot of lovers in Crete. In the rest of Greece rabbit is much less popular to the degree that in some places is almost unknown. Apart from being delicious, rabbit is one of the healthiest types of meat (if not the healthiest). It is a low fat meat (far less fatty than other meats), rich in proteins and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium and selenium. It is also rich in vitamins of the B family, such as B3 and B12 as well as omega-3 fatty acids. It should also be stressed that rabbits are very sensitive animals, i.e., they die quite easily if they are not fed appropriately. They only feed on plants and cereals, a fact resulting also in healthier meat. Therefore, when consumed in moderation, rabbit meat is a beneficial element in a diet.
Cretan eat their rabbits in a two main ways, barbecued or stewed. A very common rabbit stew is the “stifado” in which rabbit is cooked together with onions or shallots. Another version is “kokkinisto“, a stew based on fresh tomato juice. One of the tastiest stews is the so called “ksidato“, i.e., rabbit cooked in olive oil and vinegar, this being one of the greatest Cretan specialities. Rabbit is a speciality not to be missed if one visits Crete!