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Taste’s Like Chicken

May 4, 2009

img_1280Spring means many things to many people in many places, and here in the northern hemisphere spring means birth, green growth, and the visible end to eating the same root vegetables that have been slowly growing in your root cellar.  At least that is what spring meant one hundred years ago.  These days vegetables come from far away to keep your supermarket shelves green, birth is replaced by a shrink-wrap package and root vegetables elected the potato as their king and banished him to the deep fryer of fast food franchises.  And somehow time travel is still possible. 

I know I’m a bias judge, but living on this farm feels like I’m allowed to travel back in time and savor all the romantic moments that my mind tells me the “old days” have kept secret for so long.  Maybe it is the mere fact that I have a daily, direct relationship with shaping my own life: I do exactly what I want to do everyday, I am active and productive, and what I produce feeds me and many others in a way that will make their life better.  Better is one of those words my high school English teachers tried to strike from my vocabulary, along with nice, good, the verb to be…etc, so what does better mean?  img_1160What I’m trying to get at is that the “quality” of life improves.  For them that means that the food is more nutritious in a chemical way, and environmental way.  For me, for my philosophical self, improving “quality” changes the way I look at the world, it makes me more objectively observant, and the things I see are closer to quality as well.  Take the Red Trillium, it is a wild flower only found in northern deciduous forests.  Up here you have a very short window to catch this beauty, they pop up in the spring just as the bugs are waking from their winter sleep and they are often gone by the time the spring nights are getting warmer.  In a short expedition to the woods I stumbled upon this one.  What it took for me to notice this little flower is the change that I’m trying to describe.

Food is a perfect example of “quality.”  Many have wondered if what we eat in the modern world is really food.  The folks who did King Corn tried to figure out what their food was made of, Michael Pollan is trying to expose the public to that very question, and even popular movies, like the Matrix have grappled with what food has become:

Because you have to wonder: how do the machines know what Tasty Wheat tasted like? Maybe they got it wrong. Maybe what I think Tasty Wheat tasted like actually tasted like oatmeal, or tuna fish. That makes you wonder about a lot of things. You take chicken, for example: maybe they couldn’t figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything.  -Mouse from the Matrix

img_1269Chicken hardly tastes like chicken any more, Mouse was right.  Kentucky Fried Chicken slaughters most of their chickens when they are six to seven weeks old, the chickens are fed medicated feed, and when they are cleaned they are soaked in a cleaning solution for a few hours.  The meat is a far cry from what chicken actually tastes like, it has been nourished on a poor diet, it has not had time to mature and develop and it has been diluted by water.  It’s no wonder the birds are tasteless, unless you count the grease flavor.  My chickens are now four weeks old, and while it astounds me how big they are already, they still fit nicely in my hand; bite-size if you will.

img_12891After a long day under the sun, planting, harrowing, discing, rolling, moving cattle, just about any food will taste good on the basis of its pure sustenance value.  But good food still tastes better.  This morning I got out a fair sized, nine pound chicken from the freezer and let it thaw.  The I basted it with some butter and garlic and threw it in the oven.  After it had cooked a good while I added some potatoes and onions to soak up the juices in the bottom the pan.  When it was done the whole house smelled of the rich smell of chicken.

img_1292Garden potatoes, frozen garden beans, fresh picked asparagus, and chicken, oh the chicken, that is a meal.  Each flavor was unmistakably its own.  And with each bite I was aware of not just the provenance of the ingredients but the care, respect and flavor of it all.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe "Tambien" permalink
    May 4, 2009 11:56 pm

    Look at that tasty buzzard!
    Thanks for sending me the link. I think I’m hooked already.

  2. May 5, 2009 10:31 am

    Nice Trillium! My favorite!

  3. May 6, 2009 3:46 am

    “Oh, mama…”, finally food!, farmy and tasty food. How I miss you basting chicken and throwing them in the oven.

    By the way, in the little village I worked in La Rioja last weekend I met a guy who made wine and olive oil. He invited me to try them and explained to me how he made them. You would have love it.

    And… “Tambien”, welcome to the “Grass Happens hooked ones”. It’s awesome to hear from you.

  4. dakinhenderson permalink
    May 7, 2009 11:33 am

    Hey squeegy bucket. Nice reference to the Matrix! But if everything tastes like chicken, what about the woman in the red dress?

    I’ve been roasting and then freezing chickens for lunch meat instead of going to the supermarket deli, lately. It’s like leftovers after Christmas–all the time!

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