I’ve been reading here about Mark Zuckerberg’s new challenge, which is not to eat any meat, except the meat from animals that he has personally killed. His first kill was a lobster, which he plunged into a pot of boiling water. Now he’s killing chickens, but there is no mention in the news about how he kills his chickens. First of all, where does he get live chickens? Does he raise chickens in his back yard?
When I was a child, my family had a “hen house” and a “chicken pen” in the back yard. Now most cities have laws against raising chickens in a residential neighborhood.
When my mother ran out of pullets, and didn’t want to kill and eat the laying hens, she would go uptown to a store that sold live chickens. (A pullet is a young female chicken.) Then she would bring the chicken home and keep it in our chicken pen until Sunday morning when it was time to kill it for our Sunday dinner.
I don’t know what is the acceptable way to kill a chicken today, but I can tell you how it was done in the old days: you grab the chicken by the head and swing it around and around until you twist the head completely off. This is called “wringing the neck” of the chicken. Back then, a common threat to children was “I’m going to wring your neck if you don’t behave.”
You may have heard the expression, “like a chicken with its head cut off,” which is used to indicate something or someone flopping around. You see, the chicken doesn’t die instantly when you wring its neck. It lives for around a minute and flops around all over the place. That’s why this ritual is always done outside.
When the chicken is finally dead, the next step is to plunge the whole chicken into a washtub filled with very hot water, which has been heated over a wood-burning stove. The hot water loosens the feathers so that they can be pulled out. The final step is to pluck out the “pin feathers” which are very small feathers that are just starting to grow. Plucking the pin feathers was always my job because it takes the eyesight and small fingers of a child to do this laborious task. Or so I was told.
I can’t imagine Mark Zuckerberg wringing a chicken’s neck or plucking pin feathers. According to news reports, he killed a goat by slitting its throat, which was the humane way to do it. He probably cuts the chicken’s head off and leaves the pin feathers on.
The news article did say that Zuckerberg eats the whole chicken, including the liver and the heart. What? He doesn’t eat the gizzard? I guess when you’re a billionaire, you can waste food like that.
When I was a child, I always got the gizzard, which I was led to believe was a great honor and a privilege. Now I suspect that I was given the gizzard because no one else would eat it. In any case, my family always served the whole chicken: liver, heart, and gizzard. (You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten a fried chicken gizzard.)
My family didn’t use the chicken feet to make soup. We weren’t THAT poor. We purchased Campbell’s chicken noodle soup instead. The only soup that my mother made was vegetable soup with a broth made from beef bones, which were given away free at the butcher shop.
It’s nice to know that my family once lived like a billionaire does today.
P.S. I suspect that Zuckerberg is mostly a vegetarian, as am I. I eat chicken once in a while, but I’m long past killing chickens, or even cooking them. I buy my chicken already cooked, sliced and put into a sandwich at Togo’s.