Monday, February 2, 2015

If you are willing to eat it, you should be willing to kill it.

Or, able to convince your husband to kill it for you.

I want to be able to say it was the best chicken I’ve ever had. After biking two hours through intermittent rain, navigating the maze of back roads with a hand drawn map. Having to get off our bikes and walk them through ankle-deep sludge when the tracks became too treacherous. Moaning in exasperation every time we saw another sign saying our destination was just "200 meters" ahead. Getting so much mud crammed in the wheels that they stopped spinning entirely and needing to drag our bikes the rest of the way to the farm we’d heard so much about. Arriving, picking out an unsuspecting chicken, and unceremoniously spilling its blood with a dull blade. Plucking its feathers and watching its swift, expert deconstruction. Waiting an hour while drinking beer and playing pool and being offered rice wine and chicken feet by the local patrons (one of which, we enjoyed).

When the heaping tray of grilled chicken finally arrived, served with a generous bowl of freshly-ground peanut sauce and just-picked garlicky greens and rice, I wish I could say it was the best meal we’ve ever eaten. Cause a chicken died for it. And we were muddy and hungry and exhausted and anxious and it doesn’t get more farm-to-table than this.

But, I can’t. It was kind of tough and a little chewy didn’t have much good meat on it. Maybe that’s how real farm-fresh, hormone-free chickens taste. Maybe it just wasn’t fully grown yet (oh, great, we murdered a teenage chicken?!). Oh, and it was really expensive (by Vietnamese standards). I walked away feeling disappointed. And a little guilty. Confused as to why I’d feel that way, after freely consuming hundreds of chickens (and cows and pigs) in my lifetime. Likely raised in far worse conditions than this, killed en masse and perfectly butchered and packaged for my convenience. Here I was, supporting a farming family directly. Taking full responsibility for the life sacrificed for our meal. It’s an experience that every meat-eater should probably have once in their life. I should embrace it, I think. My feelings were mixed, to say the least.

Sorry veggie friends. It didn't make me want to give up meat or anything crazy like that. Cause it's tasty and the circle of life and all that jazz. But it was an impactful and unforgettable experience, nevertheless. 

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