Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Off topic, but important

I had a revelation this week. You know how we joke that everything sort of tastes like chicken? Well, I now know why. It is because what we have been eating does not taste like chicken at all. What we have been eating tastes like nothing at all. You know what does taste like chicken? CHICKEN. Real chicken. Chickens that have been fed what chicken eat (grain, grubs, bugs), who get to walk around, who are not “cooped” up all the time (think about the expression, who do not have their beaks removed, who see sunlight, etc.) You know – animals, birds, living things.

This weekend – spurred by my recent readings of Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (both excellent books that have their pros and cons. They should not be taken at face value, but like all good books force you to think and ask yourself questions. They also made me hungry) – I purchased a fresh, totally organic free range, never frozen, locally raised chicken at our local farmers market. It had been “harvested” on Thursday and on Tuesday was on the grill. I butterflied it and spiced the skin heavily with salt, pepper, some other spices and used bricks to press it down on the grill. Inspired by Georgian chicken I have had in Moscow.

Not only did it look fabulous, and smell terrific, but it tasted like – well it tasted what I can only assume chicken tastes like. The texture was smoother and richer, the taste was fuller and more complex. It did not taste like nothing, or like the sauce it was served with – it tasted like - heaven help me – MEAT - with flavor, texture, complexity and nuance.

At first, the taste bugged me. It did not taste like chicken. It tasted weird. And then I realized, everything else I had been eating for 41 years did not taste like chicken and this was the real thing. I feel liberated, but angry (and hungry, but what else is new). I’ve been duped all my life by people I have never met who have robbed me of flavor and taste experiences all for a cheaper product. I robbed myself by buying an inferior product, and not knowing enough to ask what I was eating.

Well, enough is enough. I am onto something good and hope I never go back. What’s for dinner? Chicken . . . mmmmmmmm, chicken.