Sunday, January 14, 2007

Thoughts on a Chicken

I was in the meat section of Food Basics today when I happened upon what seemed like a good deal. Instead of purchasing a few skinless boneless chicken breasts and paying half a mint, maybe I could buy a whole chicken, already seasoned, for $7.95. And we could eat chicken for dinner and maybe use the rest for salads and sandwiches and maybe dinner the next night. I bought it. And I came home and I cooked it.

However, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the other chickens (the ones that didn’t come seasoned) had a big, black and white label on them that said, “Contains giblets” and then it added in capital letters, “MAY CONTAIN KIDNEY”. Hmmmmm, I thought, are some people allergic to kidney? It doesn’t seem likely since pretty much everyone has several kidneys. And at school, when we were given the list of things to not bring to school because of allergies, kidney wasn’t on the list. Or perhaps kidney is against some people’s religion. Although I can’t think of which religion that might be.

And when I got the chicken home and took it out of the wrapping and began to examine it, I noticed that the legs were bound. No doubt, this was supposed to keep the chicken in the correct position for cooking. Maybe bound feet help keep the flavour in. However, I got to thinking, “What if there are giblets in my chicken?” Is there a regulation that a chicken containing giblets should be labeled? I think they should label a chicken if it does NOT have giblets. I flipped over the wrapping and read the instructions. It said to preheat the oven and take the chicken out of the plastic and put it on a tray and put it in the oven. It didn’t say ANYTHING about removing giblets or un-binding the chicken’s legs. So I didn’t.
And everything was fine.
I just feel maybe there is a loop-hole in the system.

The chicken was delicious by the way. And Mark and I each had a leg and there was lots of meat which I carefully carved off the….the….(I want to say “caucus” here because my mom always used that word, but I’m not sure it’s widely used)….skeleton. After removing the meat (with the skill of a surgeon, I might add), I got to examining the poor wingless, legless piece of a chicken and got a bit sad.

After all the living this poor chicken did, all the being hatched and growing-up and making friends and shooting the chicken-breeze and then being separated from his parents and then being slaughtered…..his whole life had been whittled down to eight bucks. I almost felt like I should have paid more. Like a life is worth more than that (and I’m a very frugal shopper). I normally eat meat without a care in the world, but to suddenly be responsible for consuming an entire being……well, I think that IS a responsibility.

So I stared at the forlorn hunk of bones and the stubborn remnants of meat that clung to them. And I contemplated just tossing it into the garbage. And then I decided that I had a responsibility. It was one I had never understood before. My mother had always done it after meals, and I had wondered why, after preparing an entire dinner, she would want to then tackle a whole other ordeal. Well today I finally understood my responsibility to make this chicken’s life meaningful in a way that two chicken legs with supper just can’t do.

I made congee.

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