Thursday, November 09, 2006

chicken alas a dirty word

"They stopped in Charlottetown and had dinner. Emily, who had had no appetite since her father's death, could not eat the roast beef which the boarding-house waitress put before her. Whereupon Aunt Elizabeth whispered mysteriously to the waitress, who went away and presently returned with a plateful of delicate, cold chicken - fine white slices, beautifully trimmed with lettuce frills.

'Can you eat that?' said Aunt Elizabeth sternly, as to a culprit at the bar."

LM Montogomery, Emily of New Moon, Ch.6

***

I've said some mean things about pale, measly chicken before myself, but now that I am preparing organic chicken breasts I find them way more flavorful, rich, and, oddly reliable in their soft, slippery, sweet, firm texture. My musings were brought on by chicken thoughts at Eat and at Food+Paper, recently.

Whenever I enjoy chicken, I think of it as above. It's a fascinating quote; it's a description of inedible chicken that is still somehow quite tantilizing . . . The passage is really even more fraught, but I didn't want to quote too long. And Aunt Elizabeth, after all, Emily finds, has more tang than Aunt Laura. So not to worry. Cousin Jimmy has been haunting my academic work lately, but that's another story.

I like pork and lamb and beef a lot too, but let's not fault healthy, simple chicken breast just because agricultural industrialization made it all injected and rubbery and weird.

And another party heard from. Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons, Food.

***

WAY LAY VEGETABLE.

Leaves in grass and mow potatoes, have a skip, hurry you up flutter.

Suppose it is ex a cake suppose it is new mercy and leave charlotte and nervous bed rows. Suppose it is meal. Suppose it is sam.

COOKING.

Alas, alas the pull alas the bell alas the coach in china, alas the little put in leaf alas the wedding butter meat, alas the receptacle, alas the back shape of mussle, mussle and soda.

CHICKEN.

Pheasant and chicken, chicken is a peculiar third.

CHICKEN.

Alas a dirty word, alas a dirty third alas a dirty third, alas a dirty bird.

CHICKEN.

Alas a doubt in case of more go to say what it is cress. What is it. Mean. Potato. Loaves.

CHICKEN.

Stick stick call then, stick stick sticking, sticking with a chicken. Sticking in a extra succession, sticking in.

***

That was hard to excerpt. I knew where to end this one, but when I tried to figure out where to start, well, you know . . . And I take back what I said about visual representations of Alice Toklas. There is an enchanting photograph of her in this week's New Yorker.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Sarah said...

Your literary passage reminded me of a "This American Life" episode which was about the experience of believing in something (usually something that seemed very reasonable to your 6 or 8 year old self) and never really confronting the strangeness of this belief until you blurt it out as an adult and then realize how ridiculous you sound. There was a woman on the show who believed that unicorns existed until she was at a keg party in college and the topic of endangered animals came up and she asked if unicorns were on the endangered species list.

Another woman on the show grew up in a house where chicken was served for dinner every single night. She didn't realize that other mothers cooked different dishes for dinner until she went to college and remarked to her friends how amazing the variety of foods was in the cafetieria. When she went home for fall break, she confronted her mother about the matter. She responded with a shrug, "You all just liked chicken."

Organic chicken breasts, I admit, are entirely different from the ones taken from chickens who live in small boxes and never see the light of day. I have to say, though, that I have never found a recipe for boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I would put in the "good" category. I'd be glad to try one out, if you have one.

6:14 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

I like boneless skinless chicken breasts in Chinese stir-fry, sliced in thin strips, marinated in salt, pepper, mirin, and soy and not overcooked. I also like them pounded out very thin, seasoned well, breaded, fried, and layered with tomato sauce and cheese to make chicken parm. I could go on but I'll stop there.

I loved that episode of This American Life. Apparently all the eps are now available to download as podcasts.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe you quoted L.M. Montgomery.

That's kind of awesome.

1:42 AM  
Blogger zp said...

I think L.M. Montgomery is the single most often cited author on this blog. I'm going to add her to my sidebar somewhere.

As for "This American Life" I was only able to listen to it during the highest heights of my radio addiction (which, fyi, Sarah, took place in Durham, NC where the public radio rocks, no?). In more saner moments, the show is a little too precious for me. The stories work better, for me, when retold by someone with a drier delivery. Like you, Sarah.

And then there's this:

"Picture it. Sardinia, 1932. I was on a tour of the great caper factories. I was a kooky kid going through my piccata period -- a wedge of lemon and a smart answer for everything. Anyway, I was slicing an onion when, suddenly, a big basil tree fell. I don't have a story about taking advantage of a dead guy. I have a story about a Moroccan and a monkey. But that falls under the heading of lust."

I, actually, have a story about a chicken marsala pas des deux, but THAT is for another time . . .

5:17 PM  

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