Why you should care
It’s tasty, spicy and comes in an edible container — and is definitely not a snack for rabbits.
Forget cereal or bacon and eggs: The hottest new food to tickle the tonsils at the breakfast table is of the decidedly spicy variety. And it’s about as far from oatmeal as you can imagine — a hand-held stew, in fact — and comes with a curious name.
Hailing from South Africa, bunny chow is traditionally a mutton or bean curry stuffed inside a white loaf of bread. And while the name’s origin is a bit mysterious, its creation is steeped in politics. During apartheid, immigrant Indian field workers were restricted from purchasing food at many restaurants. That meant a packed lunch, but their roti-wrapped curry would spill en route. One enterprising soul hollowed out a loaf of bread and filled it with curry, creating a durable, edible lunch box. Bunny chow has become so popular that review sites like Quarterbunny have sprung up, but it’s had little traction outside the continent — until recently.
“It’s not made from rabbits!”
Bunnychow co-founder Lyndsay Anderson
In 2013, a London food truck called Bunnychow started selling modified versions of the traditional dish to the British public. Co-founder Lyndsay Anderson first heard about bunny chow from her colleagues who had traveled in South Africa, and thought that this spicy dish could prove popular in the U.K. The truck was such a success that the founders opened a stand-alone restaurant in late 2014, and are now picking up culinary compliments, recently winning the “Most Innovative Breakfast award” during British Breakfast Week.
The award winner was the Full English Bunny, the Bunnychow breakfast special, which includes sausage, bacon, mushrooms, beans, tomato, black pudding and fried egg in a brioche bowl. Anderson says that their British “bunny” differs from the original: While inspired by South African fillings, Bunnychow’s offers “unique” options like pulled pork. A selection of five different bunnies retail for $6–$7.50 each. There’s one vegetarian option, and diners have a choice of bread, including wholemeal, brioche, white and gluten-free.
There have been challenges bringing this dish to Britain, Anderson says. For example, she and her colleagues keep having to educate people about what they’re selling — “It’s not made from rabbits!” she explains. And while this street food is, conveniently, a waste-free meal, it’s definitely not date food. Learning how to eat it sans mess is a skill.
Food scientist and dietitian Joy Dubost is concerned about the amount of bread involved; when a healthy intake of grains is 6 ounces per day, many bread bowl servings are “larger” than necessary. Nutritionist and author Dr. Janet Brill is also not a fan of this bready trend unless “the bowls are made with whole grain and low in sodium.” Brill stressed that portion control is key. But Anderson defends the bunnies when it comes to carbs. Because the loaf is hollowed out, “there’s less bread than a regular sandwich,” she points out.
Whether you’re for or against it, the bunny has now entered the building.