Opinion Columns & Blogs

Once upon a time, people ate everything

Bill Hall
Bill Hall

You can tell which food choices were normal among my parent’s generation and my children’s generation simply by asking which weird animal parts they ate or didn’t eat.

My parents’ generation ate almost everything – kidneys, hearts, tongues, livers, occasional eyeballs. Today, most people in this country are pretty picky, specializing in ordinary cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken.

Today, I would not go so far as to say nobody should ever put a chicken through the pain of giving up a real drumstick in order to make way for a plastic drumstick, but such a development seems to be imminent. A live chicken is in the process of acquiring a different, inedible leg – or drumstick.

According to Reuters, a Massachusetts woman named Andrea Martin has a generous inclination to help rescue a chicken named Cicely from a damaged leg. The procedure involves replacing an irregular leg with a new plastic leg built on a 3-D printer.

Reuters quoted Martin as saying “It was a no-brainer. She (Cicely) needs to be able to live a normal life.”

Martin is obviously one of the kindest persons ever to come to the aid of animals. However, I am not familiar with any chickens bright enough to know a bug from a pebble or a mud ball from a mound of manure.

Many dogs can be friendly, affectionate and close to intelligent, but chickens are not nice guys by any stretch. They have the brains of a toad – a really stupid toad. They lack manners and social warmth.

Chickens are cannibalistic. They occasionally gather around and peck each other to death, somewhat like members of the U.S. House of Representatives, be they Democrats or be they Republicans.

All animals are not alike, and chickens are no exception. Even some human vegetarians, who won’t eat beef, will eat shrimp because shrimp are too stupid to live. Ditto chickens.

However, I am impressed by what we used to eat – not just popular pieces of chicken or cow – but pretty much all the pieces. Chickens weren’t merely limited to being eaten because of their drumsticks or breasts, but also because the entire chicken was part of our normal and essential nutrition. For generations the sensible practice of people everywhere was to eat whatever we could find and never waste any food.

For instance, we didn’t merely eat the drumsticks. We also ate the gizzard, the heart and the oily rear end.

Similarly, we not only ate steaks and roasts of cattle, but the hearts and tongues, mostly as sandwich meat. Nothing was wasted.

Today, much of those portions have fallen by the wayside in affluent nations. And, of course, teenagers in much of the world will eat nothing but pizza.

However, there are a few situations where unwary consumers of today will ignorantly swallow yucky chow. For instance, I occasionally I run across canned meat that is a somewhat secret amalgamation of leftover body parts of all kinds that most people wouldn’t swallow if they had the slightest idea of what it was.

If they knew the ingredients, they would be startled. These congealed products contain lips, eye lids, udders, gums, noses, tails and, at Christmas, a partridge in a pear tree.

But there is something surrealistic about a chicken with one real, living drumstick and one lifeless plastic drumstick. Maybe we should consider mercy rather than “fixing” a pet in pain.

A chicken doesn’t live forever. So what do you do when the chicken is gone and the plastic drumstick remains?

You use the drumstick on a drum, of course, and tap out a farewell dirge to your old pal Cicely.

Contact Bill Hall atwilberth@cableone.net or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501.