Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Food (as usual) in New York (aha, someplace new!)

New York continues to keep me off balance. I had finally adjusted to my local supermarket, the Great Wall, which sells two brands of peanut butter but seven kinds of dried fish. Seriously, there are live eels and durian popsicles. Still, I'm an adaptable sort, and I'd adjusted to shopping there (not that I've bought live eel or durian popsicles yet...)

Then today on my way home, I decided to roast a chicken. It was a chilly evening and I found myself craving comfort food, so on my walk from the subway station, I poked my head into the neighborhood's halal butcher. I got one whole chicken, some lentils, and was soon in my warm apartment with the oven preheating and a cookie sheet tin-foiled into a makeshift roasting pan. Pulling the chicken out of the grocery bag, I realized for the first time just how whole it was.

Content omnivore that I am, I'm willing to handle whole dead chickens, giblets and all, but one with glazed eyes still staring up at me was almost too much. I fished out a knife and finished the cut the butcher had begun, then decided the reptile feet were simply too much and left them on, picking the meat off the slightly-charred leg bones rather than trying to figure out how to twist, pull or hack them off.

It reminded me of Morocco - except that my halal birds there still came headless and clawless. I thought of a Tomie di Paola story from my childhood, an episode about going to his grandfather's butcher shop and pretending the chicken feet were his hands, scaring his grandmother and girls in his class as he pulled the tendons with his (hidden) real hands so the dead toes jumped and pinched. I remembered thinking how stupid it was to be afraid of chicken feet - but I think I see the creepy factor better now.

Now all I have to do is pluck my own bird. There's no way I could actually kill it myself, but as far as adventures in meat-eating go, I've got to admit that head-chopping and foot-handling isn't actually all that bad.


Kyle said...

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand time: this is why I never go anywhere. Except for the upcoming German anomaly, but I think that may be less foreign than New York. :)

KEP said...

"this is why I never go anywhere."
yeah, but that's just plain boring. better dealing with my own chickens than sitting at home, I suppose...

Sarah said...

kyle, you never go anywhere 'cause you're afraid of chicken feet??

Kyle said...

Sarah, it seems reasonable enough to me. :)