Sunday, November 3, 2013

I'll never look at chicken the same

This year bought a Halloween unlike any other for me. There was some real killing, real blood, and a real zombie...chicken. If you didn't know me previously it is important to know I used to be pretty squeamish and blood averse. But since I'm in the Peace Corps and things are constantly changing for me, when offered the opportunity to slaughter a chicken, I accepted.  I decided to learn how to process a chicken from catching it all the way to eating it. I'm not sure I totally appreciated the appropriateness of this taking place on Halloween but looking back I'm almost glad for the timing. 

So more about the slaughter. All I really care to share is that it was killed humanely, with my knife, and by my hands. It breathed its last breaths hanging from the compound's clothes line. The chickens were then gutted on the tables where I (used to) do my laundry. I learned that preparing a chicken is actually a very complicated, labor-intensive process and that some of my fellow trainees are uncomfortably good with a blade. The chickens were cooked over an open fire in the middle of the training center for all to see. Also cooked were the gizzards, livers, and even a testical "Kentucky style" by Jake from Knoxville. There were many leftovers which made the night guards pretty happy. 

So just when I thought I was becoming a calloused butcher and fearless outdoorsman, I had a hard time falling asleep that night due to the image of the slaughter playing over and over again in my head. I thought I was going to escape the mental torment for a little while when i went to my CBT site. Unfortunately this was not the case as my family chose this as the day they would slaughter their 30 chickens for sale. I helplessly looked on with my 6 year old host sister as one-by-one they were effortlessly passed to the reaper. I think this may be God's way of saying I wasn't cut out for killing. 

Quick culture note about chickens: they are relatively expensive here so they eat them about as much as people typically eat fish in the US. As suggested previously my host father raises and kills chickens. We just got a new freezer here which is now full of 30 chickens. This means we have chicken a little more often than the typical family. My first experience was fried and stuffed chicken with spaghetti; by far my favorite meal here so far. For the past two days we have been having different mixtures of chicken parts and left over sheep meat from Tabaski (which was two weeks ago).  Here they eat almost any edible part of the chicken. I like particularly the heart. I just now had rice with chicken feet, intestines, liver, neck, and some other mysterious components. This makes me wonder what happens to those parts in the US...Hot dogs?  Anyway I have become very fond of chicken dishes here. It's a good break from fish and rice. I feel very spoiled every time the dish is uncovered and I see some tough white meat. And now that I've been on the other side of preparation, I have a whole new appreciation for the meal. 

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