This week I did something extremely unusual. On Monday I bought one whole Free-range chicken for £7.17 from a supermarket.
To highlight just how unusual a purchase this was, I would like to draw to your attention the following fact: the last time I distinctly remember buying a whole chicken was approximately 3 years ago, and that was to impress a boy. I mean, I was trying to impress him with the final dish of cooked chicken, not the act of purchasing poultry. I failed in this attempt by the way, but don’t bear any grudges towards the chicken.
Although I love eating meat, I simply refuse to buy anything that is not free range at the very least, and because of the expense, I suppose I have gotten used to not buying it. For the same reason, if not more so, I also do not generally buy chicken pieces unless they have been garlanded with an attractive bright yellow sticker ‘WAS £x, NOW £y’ and arranged to look so forlorn that I feel compelled by guilt to purchase the item, thereby doing my bit to save the world from the heinous crime of food wastage. I note that this exercise usually involves the additional trauma of an altercation with a pensioner over the last coleslaw. WAS £1.19, NOW 34p.
As I wandered aimlessly around Waitrose – I do this sometimes, not buying anything but just walking up and down aisles metaphorically feeding my lust for fine food – it occurred to me that I could buy a whole chicken and see how many different dishes I could prepare from one bird.
I am willing to concede that this idea is hardly original to myself, but that only added to the fascination. In the good old days chicken was a treat to be savoured and every scrap would have been made use of. A lady I once stayed with in Scotland told me the story of a farmer relation of hers who, in the 1950’s would send her family a slaughtered chicken in the post once a year, wrapped in a brown paper package and tied up with string! A few of our favourite things.
I am partial to this approach – not chicken posting, but savouring – because it causes us to appreciate food more, and challenge us to treat what we eat with more respect. Well, after all this pondering I still had a raw chicken to contend with and some cheap but not nasty chickeny treats to cook up. I’ll let you know what I made and whether I did the bird justice in next weeks…
The Chicken Diaries.