A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 02, 2015
“If you want to have rabbit stew, first catch the rabbit”

“If you want to have rabbit stew, first catch the rabbit” (or, “first catch your hare”) is an old saying of uncertain origins. The proverb was almost certainly infuenced from the Latin, c.1300, vulgater dicitur, quod primo opportet cervum capere, & postea cum captus fuerit illum excoriare “it is commonly said that one must first catch the deer, and afterwards, when he has been caught, skin him”). “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” is a similar proverb.
Hannah Glasse (1708-1770) wrote in The Art of Cookery (1747), “Take your Hare when it is cas’d and make a Pudding.” Nevertheless, Glasse was often credited with the saying in the 19th century. “Mrs. Glasse…in that well-known part of her work where she gives directions to the Cook—‘first to catch the hare:’” was cited in print in 1805.
Wikipedia: Rabbit pie
Rabbit pie is a game pie consisting of rabbit meat in a gravy with other ingredients (typically onions, celery and carrots) enclosed in a pastry crust. Rabbit pie is part of traditional American and English cuisine. It has recently found renewed popularity. The proverb “first catch your hare”, with a similar meaning to “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched,” literally refers to the requirement to obtain a rabbit before making a rabbit pie or stew.
“To make a rabbit pie, first catch your rabbit”
The expression “first catch your rabbit” or “first get the rabbit” (similar in meaning to the proverb don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched) is used to caution against undue reliance on an event or situation that has not yet happened. It is often described as being the pragmatic first line of (possibly apocryphal) recipe for rabbit pie or rabbit stew by Isabella Beeton. The phrase has also been attributed to a recipe for rabbit pie or hare pie by Hannah Glasse. The expression is possibly much older. It has been described as an African American saying, and as a Latin proverb.
Wikipedia: Hannah Glasse
Hannah Glasse (March 1708 – 1 September 1770) was an English cookery writer of the 18th century. She is best known for her cookbook, The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy, first published in 1747. The book was reprinted within its first year of publication, appeared in 20 editions in the 18th century, and continued to be published until 1843.
10 January 1803, Washington Federalist (Georgetown, District of Columbia), pg. 3, col. 2:
Speculatists of every denomination would do well to attend to the sure system of Mrs. Glass’s cookery, who begins her receipts for dressing a famous fish with ‘first catch your Chub.’—London paper.
18 September 1805, The Morning Chronicle (London), “Downshire Election,” pg. 2, col. 3:
Mrs. Glasse, indeed, may be accused on one occasion of a little dogmatism in deciding categorically on the “absurdity” of ham sauce; and an another of contracted nationality in combating with sarcasm and argument the French mode of dressing a partridge; and on a third, perhaps, of incautious disrespect for Horace; in tracing back the tragic business too-far in that well-known part of her work where she gives directions to the Cook—“first to catch the hare:”
Google Books
February 1809, The Quarterly Review, pg. 155:
The precision of this caution is admirably calculated to prevent the embarrassment of a acertain description of philosophers, who, in default of direct rules for proceeding, are in the habit of adopting that sentiment of Plutarch (Greek text.—ed.) and may be considered as a counterpart of the excellent introduction to the well known receipt for dressing a carp, ’ First, catch your carp.’
Google Books
Duncombe’s Edition of Mathews at Home
By Charles Mathews (the Elder)
London: Published by Duncombe
Pg. 82:
‘Yes, I wonder how they do contrive to get so many husbands; for my part, I can’t get one, I can’t think how they do it.’ ‘First catch your fish,’ (reading).
Google Books 
23 July 1825, The Lancet, pg. 79:
You recollt’ct Mrs. Glassc’s prescription in making hare soup, I suppose; that sapient lady tells you “first catch your hare, then skin it,” &c.
Google Books
Thoughts on the Proposed Change of Currency
By Sir Walter Scott
Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne and Company
Pg. 20:
To begin, like Mrs Glass’s recipe for dressing a hare, first catch your hare — first buy your gold at whatever sacrifice of loss of exchange; ...
Google Books
The Boyne Water: A Tale
Volume 1

By John Banim
New York, NY: Published by George Long
Pg. 118:
“It minds me,” said Oliver, condescending to mirth, “of the auld receipt to make hare soup, beginning thus — first catch the hare.”
Google Books
25 October 1834, The Penny Magazine, “Hawking,” pg. 411, col. 1:
Mrs. Glass, in giving her valuable instructions about cooking a hare, says, very wisely, that we must first “catch the hare,” not telling us, however, how that is to be done ; but Juliana Berners and her followers minutely instruct us in the modes of catching a hawk.
13 September 1836, Connecticut Herald (New Haven, CT),  “Managing a Husband!,” pg. 4, col. 2:
To be sure, as Mrs. Glass most sensibly observes, “first catch your hare,” and you must also first catch your husband.
27 January 1858, New York (NY) Herald “The Utah Expedition,” pg. 5, col. 3:
The venerable Mrs. Glass prefaced her recipe for roasting a rabbit with the sage advice, “first catch your rabbit.”
4 May 1861, Charleston (SC) Mercury, pg. 3, col. 5:
FIRST CATCH THE RABBIT.—Ole DABE threatens to burn Baltimore if the railways leading to Washington be obstructed. Hadn’t he better get Baltimore before he burns it? Ole DABE ought to consult Miss LESLIE’s famous recipe for hare soup—“first catch the hare,” &
Google Books
August 1898, Photographic Times, pg. 346:
As the old receiptbooks used to say in telling ambitious housekeepers how to make a rabbit-stew, “first catch the rabbit.”
The Journal of Parapsychology (June 1993)
Learning to Lure the Rabbit: Charles Honorton’s Process-Relevant ESP Research. (Special Issue: A Tribute to Charles Honorton)
By Stanford, Rex G.
None of the students who, in the early to mid-60’s, eagerly imbibed the words of their hoary mentor and psi meister, J. B. Rhine, could easily forget his pithy advice to all who would study psi in the laboratory: “If you want to have rabbit stew, first catch the rabbit.” It meant, “If you want to study psi in the laboratory, you must provide the circumstances that will insure the presence of psi in your study.” Deliberate planning was needed to insure that there was “rabbit” in your larder from the beginning.
The Old Foodie
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
‘First catch your rabbit.’
Since we are discussing the subject of rabbits and hares, it seems opportune to clarify one of the most mis-quoted and mis-attributed culinary quotations of all time. Isabella Beeton did not, ever, begin any recipe with the phrase “first catch your rabbit”. Neither did Hannah Glasse, to whom it is also sometimes attributed. Hannah did however start her recipe for roast hare with “take your hare when it is cas’d” – that is, skinned. Naturally this is our recipe for the day.
Today’s Recipe …
To Roast a Hare.

Take your Hare when it is cas’d and make a Pudding; take a Quarter of a Pound of Sewet, and as much Crumbs of Bread, a little Parsley shred fine, and about as much Thyme as will lie on a Six-pence, when shred; an Anchovy shred small, a very little Pepper and Salt, some Nutmeg, two Eggs, a little Lemon-peel: Mix all this together, and put it into the Hare. Sew up the Belly, spit it, and lay it to the Fire, which must be a good one. Your Dripping-pan must be very clean and nice. Pour two Quarts of Milk and Half a Pound of Butter into the Pan; keep basting it all the while it is roasting with the Butter and Milk till the Whole is used, and your Hare will be enough. You may mix the Liver in the Pudding, if you like. You must first parboil it, then chop it fine.
[The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1747]
Google Books
The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs
By Martin H. Manser
New York, NY: Facts On File
Pg. 88:
first catch your hare
The proverb is popularly and erroneously believed to be the opening line of a recipe in an 18th or 19th century cookbook. It is actually of much earlier origin, and was first recorded c. 1300 in Latin, with deer in place of hare: “vulgariter dicitur, quod primo opporte cervum capere [it is commonly said that one must first catch the deer].”
Variant of this proverb: first catch your rabbit and then make your stew.
Google Books
Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs
Edited by Jennifer Speake
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Pg. 111:
FIRST catch your hare
Commonly though to originate in the recipe for hare soup in Mrs Glasse’s Art of Cookery (1747) or in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1851), but not found there (see quot. 1896). Similar in sentiment to Catching’s before hanging. Cf.
c1300 BRACTON De Legibus Angliae IV. xxi. vulgater dicitur, quod primo opportet cervum capere, & postea cum captus fuerit illum excoriare, it is commonly said that one must first catch the deer, and afterwards, when he has been caught, skin him.
1801 Spirit of Farmers’ Museum 55 How to dress a dolphin, first catch a dolphin.
WFPL News (Louisville, KY)
State Leaders Talk Kentucky Teachers’ Pension Solutions, To No Avail
December 1, 2015
“The old saying is if you want to have rabbit stew, the first ingredient is the rabbit,” he said.
“Well, there’s no rabbit in this report. The first ingredient has got to be addressing the unfunded liability.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Wednesday, December 02, 2015 • Permalink

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