Monday, September 3, 2007

A Local-enough Chicken in New York City

Caution: Vegetarians -- and others -- may find the following excerpt distasteful. As I have a streak that has always appreciated dark humor, it made me laugh out loud, I'm afraid.

The September 3 & 10 issue of The New Yorker (which I got a year's subscription to when I made a pledge to MPR last fall) is all about food. I haven't read all of it yet, but there's a piece by Calvin Trillin about the amazing street food to be found in Singapore, and one about Adam Gopnik's attempt to "eat local" within the five boroughs of New York City -- discovering spicy honey, tasting of sources like linden and gingko, from rooftop beehives; greens like wood sorrel (tastes just like lemonade, we discover) and purslane gathered in Central Park; fresh eggs from the City Chicken Project, run out of community gardens in the outer boroughs. Gopnik is not successful in his quest for a completely local chicken to eat -- the egg purveyor is horrified at the suggestion -- but stumbles upon a Bronx slaughterhouse where live chickens, lambs and goats await selection:
A few minutes later, a bag came out, with the chicken, still warm, cut up inside. It wasn't, of course, precisely the New York chicken that I had hoped for. It was an upstate chicken, most likely, that had come to town just for the hell of it, but its life cycle -- born elsewhere, arrived in hope, lived in cramped quarters, ended its New York existence violently and unexpectedly at the hands of someone with a fatal amount of money -- seemed to make its life local enough to qualify. I took it home to cook.

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