Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Raised in Liberty

As I stood at the kitchen counter, dismembering and plucking stray hairs from a chicken and prying off her little silver bijou, I thought, “Wonder why the Europeans aren’t so fussed about these things?” And that led me to think, ‘Why are we Americans so bothered by some chicken feathers, innards, and the like?’
We like to see our dinners as far removed from the actual living creature as possible. I know people who don’t like buffalo wings or Thanksgiving turkey because they too closely resemble the animal. And forget about shoving a live, wriggling lobster head first into a pot of boiling water…unless of course you’re my fearless friend Abby.
No, we like our food to look like it never breathed air, walked around with a silver anklet, or batted long, brown eyelashes at fellow future hamburgers. Baby chickens are cute and fluffy, cows are favorites at the petting zoo, and forget about eating a petit lapin!
It is this that sets us apart food wise. We get all squeamish and anthropomorphic while the French just look on it as their natural right in the pecking order to eat good, rich food. Foie gras  (literally, fat liver) is an abomination to some, escargot are snails, pig brains are well, brains!?, and let’s not even start on cheval. Ma fille is still traumatized by the packaged horse steaks at the Hyper-U.
We just see things differently, that’s all. I’m actually getting used to being closer to my food. In the old days, women would step outside, snatch up a chicken and wring her neck for supper. I would never be able to go that far but at least they knew where their chicken had been.
Back to my poulet. My fat bird may have been slightly feathered but at least she was elévé en liberté or the more romantic translation, 'total freedom'. The French are big on liberty. It’s first in their national motto, liberté, égalité, fraternité, and chickens deserve no different. It’s like this: embrace your food, know where it comes from (preferably France), and above all, cook it well and eat it. If you don’t enjoy it then it was all for naught. And what a pity that would be.


  1. I have been educating Margaret on "where does our food come from?" We actually have laws in America preventing journalists from photographing industrial farms..if people knew where some of their food was coming from; they would demand better. We visited the farm where I purchase our beef & chicken. It's expensive, so we don't eat it as often. The grocery stores put pictures of farmers on their walls and their products, but very little of the food in the supermarket is coming from farmers anymore...it's all corporations...blah blah, i could go on forever :) I agree with you: embrace it, know where it comes from, enjoy it :)

  2. I know Susan. It is awful when you realize what kind of life the animals live. We should at least appreciate what they give us and treat them well before they're Sunday's dinner. Plus, they say that all the stress animals live under makes them full of stress hormones...not tasty and not good for us either. And finally, you're right about not eating meat as often. We aren't supposed to eat it at every meal or even every day for that matter. x

  3. It does freak me out a bit to have to pluck some feathered hair from my French chicken, but it does taste so much better. It actually tastes like real chicken!

  4. It's one of the reasons many of us choose to live here, isn't it Aidan? The French love for food...good food. I'm learning to eat many things that are way too recognizable but oh so good. Some things I just can't try....yet (brains) but I still want to join in the ever present conversation ABOUT it...food that is. Pluck away!

  5. SL, I thought you were moving and incommunicado? you're right that food tastes better here. I was hoping I'd become a super-extraordinaire cook, but oh well.
    YOu tell me when you're ready for the brains and I'll try them too!
    Keep cool girls!


It makes my day to read your comments. They're an answer to my floating words in blogland.