Writing Challenges

Tastes Like Chicken

Good morning.

Nicky’s not here today, so you’re stuck with me. Contrary to what she told you the other day, I will not be wearing any such little red backless number. I might however, be wearing my best sundress. Awfully and terribly.

The craziest thing about today’s prompt was that I wasn’t going to write anything. Then, suddenly, while hastily throwing together a chicken stir fry (while battling the flu, dammit), I realized that I had a post, just sitting there amongst the fennel and taragon and spinach and avocado and sliced almonds. Yes, the whole gang was there. There was even a tomato and some celery, and they were all cooking gently and happily in a little grapeseed oil.

Once it was ready, I doled out a portion to myself and headed to work (I’ve been working late hours these days), confident that my stir fry would taste like chicken, albeit randomly seasoned. Then, as I zoned out on the subway in a Tylenol fog, my thoughts turned to my father, and how he’d tell us that chicken today tastes nothing at all like the chicken of yore.  Being the age that I am, I have nothing to base this on, so I took his word for it.

So, just like Oreos used to taste different (they used to use lard), I imagine that a lot of things used to taste differently. Still, I started to wonder if chicken tastes like chicken at all and, if we could go back in time, would time machine chicken taste better or worse than what we’re used to? Our taste memories are very powerful things, just that our brains are also huge liars half the time. So the age old question remains: if chicken doesn’t taste like chicken, what does it taste like? Still, I’m wondering if Tylenol Cold and Flu or whatever the hell I took, should have a warning that it may cause existential thoughts about chickens.

And then I arrived at work and slept for 8 hours.

Edit: Sprucing things up with yesterday’s chicken:
looks like chicken

###

Welcome to Day 19 of the Second Third Annual 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing. Today’s prompt was Tastes Like Chicken and it was brought to you by the Guinness Book of World Records holder for greatest number of challenges participated in, Katherine. Please click on the links below to visit the other people participating in this challenge. Don’t forget the honey mustard sauce.

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  • In the old days, everything tasted the same. Just looked different. You know? When everything was in black and white.

  • Yeah, what’s up with that? When I was a kid I used to love Kentucky Fried Chicken. These days you couldn’t get me near the stuff. I hate it. Maybe when the Colonel died his employees started skimping on the secret recipe. Maybe they cut back to 6 herbs and spices you know?

  • Your dad is right and not just about chicken. When chicken and turkey breeders realized that more people liked white meat, they fed & bred the dark meat right out of these birds. I remember when dark meat was a very gamy brown and was the most fatty part of the bird. As much as I dislike fatty and gamy meat, I did love the taste of anything cooked in or with lard. I can’t bring myself to eat anything that’s been anywhere near lard today, but damn, it was good.

  • Excellent drug influenced post. Yes, things do taste differently, and it’s not just chicken. I do miss the flavors I remember growing up. That may be why everywhere you turn there are new seasonings, cooking sauces and the like. Humans need flavor, whether we get it from our meat or added seasonings. That’s not to say that the seasoning isn’t important, but to enhance not replace. Just my two cents worth.

  • MalisaHargrove

    So sorry that you are sick, but glad that you can get caught up on your sleep at work. 🙂 Your dad is right. A lot of foods taste different now than they did back in the day. The fried chicken on my youth came right out of Grandpa’s chicken coop, and yes, it was fried in lard. And there is nothing in the world like a cast iron skillet full of fried okra that was picked right out of the garden. The fried okra that I order in restaurants doesn’t even resemble the okra of my youth. On the other hand, clean up is a lot easier than it used to be.

  • MalisaHargrove

    Lard was such a staple back then. My grandma made the best pie crusts from lard. Yum! Now, I wouldn’t let a can of Crisco in my house for anything.

  • I’m really sorry you are feeling sick! I generally buy free range and organic whenever it’s available. Chicken is such a versatile meat. There are literally hundreds of ways to prepare it that vary the taste tremendously. Sometimes I wonder when people talk about “how much better things tasted in the old days” if the food has really changed or is it the years of smoke, booze, etc. that have changed our taste buds. Know what I mean?

  • Well if there’s a difference between pastured eggs and standard crammed-in-cages by the millions eggs, I imagine there’s a difference among such chickens in taste as well. Also? Get well soon, buddy!

  • ReformingGeek

    Oh dear. I will pass on chicken tonight, whatever it tastes like. 😉 Ugh on you being ill. Get well soon!

  • First of all, I want the recipe. Then…. this is actually a really interesting idea. Mom tells me how pork is NOT pork anymore. They have made it so lean it isn’t anything like what “real” pork was. So chicken is probably the same thing!

  • That makes no sense. No sense at all.

  • Yeah, we used to like it too. I’m guess change in taste and logic might also be a factor.

  • We all know that the worst stuff for us is going to taste the best.

  • I agree. Also, marketing is playing a big role in trying to re-invent taste and combining flavours.

  • We didn’t grow up with okra, but now you see it in grocery stores everywhere. I actually have no idea how to prepare it but I’ve heard that it can be a slime fest.

  • Yep. Taste memory is a tricky thing. A lot can depend on the situation and who you were with. Maybe the food was awful but the company was great?

  • Thanks, Margaret. There’s something to be said for free range vs crammed in a cage chicken. Have you seen Food Inc.? Holy crap.

  • Thanks, Ref. I’m almost there. Just hacking my way through the nose-like-a-faucet phase.

  • When it comes to pork/chicken and any meat really, it’s probably best not to think about it too much. And the recipe? Just take those ingredients I mentioned, add some garlic and onions, and stir fry it in a wok. You can’t go wrong 🙂

  • Sadly, I am probably your dad’s age or older, so I would also say that chicken do taste differently today. When I was a kid, chicken came from family farms and the feed was shelled corn for the most part. Today, chickens are raised on huge farms and given some kind of mixture to make them grow fast and lean (esp. enhancing the breast size…yes, important to chickens as well) The chicken of yesteryear had a much stronger taste. Not gamey really but along those lines. I am sure you can still buy chicken from small farms that would come closer in taste than the commercially raised birds.

  • KZ

    I don’t know why, but when I look at the picture, I feel like I’m seeing it upside down. Also, I just wanted to say that the best chicken I’ve ever tasted was prepared in a restaurant in a rural part of China. I’m guessing the lack of artificial growth hormones played at least a small part in that.

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