Having just read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food" recently I was primed for a Pavlovian response when I heard the words "is the chicken delivery put away?" while shopping for antibiotic and hormone free, farm dwelling cow milk at our local farm.
"Did I hear chicken?", ears perking. Now I just assumed these babies weren't Perdue but did I ask? Nope.
"Fresh from the slaughter" was the reply, she barely flinched! and 4 bucks a pound! (yep, with a straight face) Well after 4 1/2 hours chasing Ky around a hellish hot lake on top of my lost innocence regarding the brutish treatment of supermarket chicken I barely flinched and requested , get this, a 4 pounder. That's right folks, until about 1/2 an hour ago I was the proud owner of a 16 dollar deceased chicken.
She (he, is that even a possibility?) was the longest, leanest chicken I've ever seen. Gone were my illusions of fatted up happy farm hens baring their necks willingly to the slaughter in gratitude for wholesome pasture living ! In an ironic twist and probably the biggest marketing coup ever, store bought, barely mobile, crammed into a chicken pen chickens are fat, meaty and tasty. Farm chickens are lean, long, sparingly meaty (Keith Moon could've done justice with these drumsticks) albeit tasty.
But there's the dilemma, are they tastier than our usual abused, antibiotic riddled store chicken? Are they in other words, worth the price? The price of our hard earned cash, and the price of knowing our dinner was happy before the slaughter? I decided to serve up a lazy woman's idea of the dinner served in the Omnivore's Dilemma. The author's credo? The menu must be created from food he killed, slaughtered or foraged on his own steam. Well he tried, and it was an admirable attempt to say the least. Needless to say I ain't going there. I foraged for the chicken in the fridge, the dusty bag of brown rice long forgotten in my pantry (found a nice, fresh can of black beans too) and the mixed veggies from my freezer. We did however forage for dessert. Raspberries (did you know they were invasive?) are everywhere on my property,even the deer and birds cry uncle and beg us to pick them so there's some challenge.
Need I say the raspberries never made it until dinner?
So after my husband forgave me for spending a 10th of this week's gas budget on the chicken he stuck ( and really if you haven't tried this you must right this minute) a can of beer in it's carcASS and placed it, legs splayed for support, on our grill. Then he proceeded to head out the door to Walmart, on a busy Saturday, because he was out of soy milk. Apparently 3.99 for half a gallon farm milk isn't good enough for him. When the chicken turned a deep, dark, light sucking black hole shade of black I called to see how he was coming along.
By the time we all sat down to eat it was 2 hours past dinner time and I don't think anyone actually tasted the chicken. My son was the hungriest so he was noncommittal other than it "tasted like chicken". I thought it had a much meatier taste to it than say your average chicken tenement raised Tyson bird, almost like turkey. My husband declared himself the only diner experienced enough to make the final determination, the "decider" if you will. Having lived on a Greek farm until 8 years old where his most memorable experience with fowl was to have them peck his ankles while in the outhouse,he tasted absolutely no discernible difference. Yea right hon, and we're not thinking with what's in our pants with that one ! His wallet folks, get a grip. Needless to say our family breadwinner has decided cheap "chemical" chicken is the way to go. And if you ask him if the price of a farm raised chicken is worth it for a higher standard of chicken living? He has a few traumatic memories of his own abuse at the beaks of chickens and needless to say he's not sympathetic to the cause.