South Africa Bunny Chows
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My Wife And Bunny Chows

The bunny chow is without doubt one of my favourite dishes in the world. I’ve spent – some would argue “wasted” – a great deal of my life thinking deeply and arguing fiercely about this simple yet elegant culinary masterpiece consisting of white bread and curry – which is somehow greater than the sum of its parts.

The person who is the tolerant audience of the majority of my bunny chow philosophising is my wife, whether it’s me ranting about the horrors of brioche bunny chows or speculating about who holds the current crown of Durban’s best mutton bunny or holding forth on bunny eating etiquette.

I live in Stockholm, Sweden these days so my wife is also forced to patiently listen to my pining, homesick reminiscing about memorable bunnies I have eaten; not to mention me constantly showing her photos of tasty-looking bunnies I find on Instagram, which is often accompanied by commentary like: “Look how glossy this one looks. That’s not a filter, babe. That’s ghee.”

South African bunny chow

With trademark consideration she also helps me fit bunny-eating time into our tight schedule when we visit Durban every couple of years. My wife is a vegetarian and loves South African Indian food, especially home-cooked traditional food such as braised green beans, pumpkin curry, dhal and butter beans curry. However, and it pains me greatly to say this, I have come to the realisation that she is hiding a secret from me – a deep, dark culinary secret, a secret that no man should ever have to learn.

I suspect my wife, a woman I have been married to for 8 years and have been together with for 10, a woman I have a 4 year old son with, of hating bunny chows.

The incident that made me aware of her abnormal aversion happened one Friday evening while I was making a home-made bunny. I very kindly offered to make her one, which she politely turned down, before adding the following off-hand, damning comment: “That’s a lot of bread.”

Let’s be clear: There are two things in a bunny: 1. Bread, and 2. Curry. If you start questioning the presence or quantity of the bread – i.e. 50 percent of the dish – then I am afraid you’ve crossed over to the dark-side of bunny-haters and bunny skepticism.

I don’t know how I never saw my wife’s tendencies before, but with hindsight, it all seems so clear. I now recall how every time I would ask her if she was in the mood for a bunny she would hesitate, um-ing and ah-ing, before finally and somewhat reluctantly agreeing about ten minutes later. We all know that there is only one answer when someone asks you if you’re in the mood for a bunny. It’s: “Abso-fucking-lutely. Let’s go right away.” Ideally, you should predict when someone is going to ask you and answer “Yes!” even before they open their mouth.

I know some of you might be thinking: Should a couple even be together if one partner hates bunnies? Surely that’s a deal-breaker? I understand that sentiment, I do. I mean, if she hates bunnies what else does she hate? Cute babies? Puppies? And what if she passes on her distaste for bunnies – let’s call it what it is: her anti-bunnyism – to our son? We all know how impressionable kids are. He’s half-Swedish and I already worry that one day he’s going to ask to eat a bunny chow filled with meatballs, lingonberry jam, and pickled herring. Now I gotta deal with the fact that he might not even like my favourite food.

But no, as terrifying as those possibilities are, I love my wife, and we are going to work through this, we’re gonna fix us. And until then, we’re gonna take it one day at a time, one gravy-soaked quarter mutton or beans bunny at a time.

Pravasan Pillay has published two chapbooks of poetry, Glumlazi (2009) and 30 Poems (2015), as well as a collection of co-written comedic short stories, Shaggy (2013). Pillay’s short story collection, Crooks, is forthcoming. He is the editor of the micro press Tearoom Books.

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