The early bird gets the rabbit

For Farming Today, the credit crunch is an opportunity to broaden our tastes

The age of austerity is upon us. The time for ferreting and hunting has come. Farming Today (Mondays to Saturdays, Radio 4, 5.45am) has spoken!

If only the rest of you had been awake to hear. We must turn back the clock "to the meat enjoyed by our parsimonious grandparents". We must prepare to squeeze the urine from the bladders of wild rabbits and place the carcasses in huge communal ice houses dug deep in the soil of local parks where once-happy children played on swings.

For we are now creatures of offal, foreshank and brain. We are eaters of eyes, chins and the marrow sucked from long-gnawed bones. "Is this really the kind of food people are turning to because of the credit crunch?" asked the presenter Charlotte Smith, a tad no comprende. "This has been our busiest year," confirmed a speciality butcher. "Just pop it in the oven, put the timer on, and enjoy a great meal of products that, well . . . you know. And save you money."

Here follows Farming Today's manifesto - condensed in haste, for there is little time left:

1) The small-minded will die first. Be open. "I know you can't just throw a pig's trotter at someone because they've said they need to tighten their belt," complained the meat buyer from Waitrose to dear Charlotte, "but I'm putting the trotters into one store. I'd love to hang my hat on them and say they'll fly, but . . ." "What's stopping us?" grieved Charlotte. "A lot of us can't cook, frankly."

2) Be prepared to bake the fuck out of everything. Phrases such as "What takes time is the cooking" and "It makes a good job if you're willing to cook it for long enough" popped up a lot. A back of lamb, for example, is edible if "boned, rolled and stuffed", then "cooked for 24 hours".

3) Et tu, Squirrel. Shoot or trap in the garden, or have them "couriered from a butcher's in Cornwall". £3.50 each. Peel like a banana and pan-fry in olive oil with thyme until "the legs go nicely brown". Hunting during nesting season is off. However desperate, we are a cut above that sort of thing.

4) If this is sounding far off the wall you need to get in the right room now.

5) Frogs: it's insane not to eat our own rabbits, like the French. If a rude mechanical from Picardy can look at a field of crops destroyed by delirious lapins and say, as one did on the Food Programme on Sunday (5 October, 12.30pm) something as romantic as, "All the fruits of our labour have been laid to waste", before shouldering his rifle, then we can follow Clarissa Dickson Wright, the chef invented by Nancy Mitford, "geying for walks and banging any poor benighted rabbit with mixy on the head with my stick", before preparing the healthy ones for the pot. (Note: the bladder of a rabbit contains ammonia, the guts breed a rare bacterium, and the gall bladder emanates a foul odour, but if these are removed immediately after death and the creature broiled with cider and sorrel until rendered into a purée transportable inside the leather hacked from golf bags discarded outside your local Foxtons, we will get through this crisis together.)

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Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 13 October 2008 issue of the New Statesman, The facade cracks