It’s a metaphor, son!

On Facebook recently, this supermarket snap, presumably from a store in Quebec, with a notable offering highlighted:

(#1) Five parts to the labeling: the name of the product in French (ailes de lapin); the name of the company (Canabec, a Quebec distributor of game — gibiers — and exotic meats; cf. elsewhere Plaisirs Gastronomiques, a Quebec company offering gourmet food, and Gaspésien, another Quebec fine food company); the name of the product in English (rabbit wings); the weight (in grams); and the price (in C$ / CA$ / CAD)

Much FB merriment over ailes de lapin ‘rabbit wings’, to which I responded:

Um, these are rabbit legs, right? Metaphorical? They resemble chicken wings and can be cooked in all the same ways. (Chinese rabbit wings are yummy.) M. Lapin: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! for then I would fly away, and be at rest.” (Psalm 55) — later adding: “Oh, that I had wings like a rabbit! for then I would bound away, and be at rest.”

It’s a metaphor, son! A metaphor! Apparently one that is dead in Quebec, and so unremarkable in Quebecois — cf. Fr chauve-souris ‘bat’ (lit. ‘bald mouse’), Engl head of lettuce (where are its eyes and mouth?), and other dead metaphors that become entertaining when you attempt to breathe life back into them.

(Hat tip to Joelle Stepien Bailard.)

A side note: rabbits with wings. The flying, or wingèd, rabbit appears as a fantasy figure in many contexts, from medieval manuscripts through modern children’s books. Here it is as the mascot of Flying Rabbit Sporting Clays, a venue for target shooting in Mount Crawford VA:


(I do just fine on feeling the gun, but then my attention wanders, and I never can find a face powder with a scent that suits me.)

Rabbit legs; rabbit wings in Québec City. The actual alar rabbit parts in question:

(#3) Wing-like rabbit legs from D’Artagnan (an American frozen food company, with headquarters in Union City NJ)

In Quebec, these are often cooked and served as “rabbit wings”. As a dish from La Buche in Québec City, as depicted on the TripAdvisor site:


Away from the Saint Lawrence River, recipes for chicken wings are often converted for rabbit legs, which can then be referred to by the fresh, live metaphor rabbit wings. As on the Farm Fresh for Life site: “Sweet & Sticky Roasted Rabbit Recipe”:

Sweety, tangy, sticky wings. That’s what these taste like, except they aren’t wings – they are rabbits.

Chinese garlic things, actually. Made from rabbit legs, with a sauce of soy sauce, brown sugar, tomato paste, lots of fresh garlic, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper; oven-roasted in oil (coconut is suggested).

Bonus: It’s a joke, son! The allusion in my title for this posting. The immediate reference is to Foghorn Leghorn. From Wikipedia:

(#5) The moods of Foghorn Leghorn

Foghorn Leghorn is a cartoon character who appears in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons and films from Warner Bros. Animation. He was created by Robert McKimson and writer Warren Foster, and starred in 29 cartoons from 1946 to 1964 in the Golden Age of American Animation.

… Foghorn Leghorn was directly inspired by the character of Senator Claghorn, a blustery Southern politician played by Kenny Delmar on Fred Allen’s popular 1940s radio show. The name Foghorn was chosen simply because it rhymed with Leghorn. Foghorn adopted many of Claghorn’s catchphrases, such as “That’s a joke, son!” Delmar’s inspiration for Claghorn was a Texas rancher who was fond of saying this.

… Note: Foghorn doesn’t rhyme with Leghorn. The breed of chicken is pronounced “leggern”.

(No, no, don’t even think about making Foghorn Leghorn into chicken wings. He’s one tough ol’ cock.)

Going back one step in time from Looney Tunes, to the movie:

(#6) A theatrical poster for the movie

It’s a Joke, Son! is a 1947 American film directed by Benjamin Stoloff featuring radio comedian Kenny Delmar as Senator Beauregard Claghorn; the inspiration for the cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn. The film was the first American production of Eagle-Lion Films and although the film was produced on a very small budget compared to other Hollywood films at the time, it was a box-office disappointment.

I don’t recall the movie, but I do remember Senator Claghorn on Fred Allen’s radio show. The voice of It’s / That’s a joke, son! in my head is not, however, Kenny Delmar’s as Senator Claghorn, but Mel Blanc’s, voicing Foghorn Leghorn.

3 Responses to “It’s a metaphor, son!”

  1. Geoffrey S Nathan Says:

    For a long time there was an Italian grocery store near us that sold ‘Pork wings’. They were surgically-altered pork chops that looked like chicken wing ‘drumsticks’ and were breaded with seasoned breadcrumbs and could be fried or baked.

  2. Stephen Anderson Says:

    Rabbit wings are featured on at least some menus here in Asheville, with no need for explanation. But it’s exclusively the (thinner, less meaty) front legs that look like chicken wings and are served this way. The picture you provide from D’Artagnan seems to be of the meaty back legs, which are much better done in other ways.

  3. lookit, looky | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] A characteristic expression of the Looney Tunes cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn; see my 1/21/20 posting on this blog, “It’s a metaphor, son”, with a section on […]

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