Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bock Bock?

So, my brother-in-law is currently undergoing chemotherapy for a brain tumor. (He had surgery a few weeks ago and the surgeon removed most of it. The prognosis is pretty positive.) You’d think that would be the topic of my post, wouldn’t you? Well, it’s not. Somehow it doesn’t seem my story to tell.

Why, then, do I bring it up? Well, soup. Soup and chickens.

When I asked Mike what he could keep down, he said soup. Actually, he said. “Well, brothy soups don’t seem to make me hurl too bad.” So Sophie and took it upon ourselves to make him a pot of the most delicious, nutritious, non-hurl-able chicken noodle soup in all the land.

I’m actually a pretty kick-ass chicken-soup maker. For this one, I threw a nice big fresh chicken, some onion, carrot, celery, bay, peppercorns, and a little garlic in my big stock pot to make the broth, cook the chicken, and get the soup ball rolling. When the chicken was cooked, I took it out of the pot, let it cool, and commenced to remove the meat from the bones.

Soph was sitting on the counter, as is her usual MO when I’m cooking. Now, my girl has eaten a lot of her chicken in her day, but I think this was the first time she saw an actual whole cooked chicken. Her chicken usually appears in nugget or drumstick form. She looked at the chicken for a while and said, “This isn’t a real chicken. Right Mommy?”

I answered her, “Well, yes. It is.”

She thought a while and asked, “But it never had a head. Right Mommy?” Warning bells began to ring on my mommy radar.

Deciding that honesty was the best policy, I told her, “Well, actually, yes. It did have a head.”

She sat for a while, and then asked the inevitable, “Where is the head now?”

Again, going with the honesty, and trying to head off further questions, I decided to give her the whole story. “Well Soph. This chicken was alive. And then somebody killed it and chopped of its head and pulled off its feathers and sent it to the store. We bought it at the store to make some soup for Mike.”

“Was it a bad guy?”

“Was who a bad guy?”

“The guy that chopped off the chicken’s head.”

“Nope. It wasn’t a bad guy. It was just a regular guy. Honey, when we eat meat, it means we’re eating an animal. The animal was alive once. Farmers raise animals for us to eat. That’s why there are farms. We need to be grateful for our food and not waste it, because the animals were alive once. Some people have decided that eating meat is not ok, and they are called vegetarians. That’s ok. But Mommy thinks it’s ok to eat meat. She just tries to be very thankful.”

“But not cows. Right mom? We don’t eat cows.”

“Well, yes. We do. Hamburgers are made from cows.”

Now the whole time we’re having this conversation, she’s been picking little bits of chicken out of the bowl I’m using and munching on them. At this point, she kind of looked at the piece of chicken in her hand, then sort of shrugged and popped it in her mouth.

This conversation is not unlike the one we had when Soph was just learning to talk. If I remember correctly, I was eating a chicken sandwich. She was curious, so I offered a little piece to her, asking, “Would you like to try some chicken?” She looked with horror at my offering, and asked, “Bock bock?”

It does seem weird that her whole life we’ve read books about farms, watched shows about farms, sang songs about farms, but never once have we talked about the fact that the animals on the farm are pretty much dinner walking around. It seems weirder that we do that to begin with. That is, personify our future food. Why do we romanticize farm animals so much?

This is the part where I should deconstruct the above, and wax all philosophical about it. But I don’t think I will.

Today’s best thing about being a mom:
It makes me think about things I should think about but don’t.

Today’s worst thing about being a mom:
There’s no denial allowed.


~A~ said...

1st - glad to see you surfacing.

2nd - I've always found it funny how kids understand the connection between live animals and food source, but it doesn't bother them unlike some adults.

Back when we had chickens the kids were concerned that there was chicks in the eggs but I told them that the hens need a rooster for there to be a chick in the egg. When we got fertile eggs for one of our hens to sit on, we called the non fertile eggs "eggie baggies" and the fertile ones "eggie babies". Cuteness would happen when Pixie would ask and hold an egg up to the light to see if there were any eggie babies inside.

When those eggs hatched we ended up with three roosters. Which with kids is two roosters too many. They were mean and would attack the kids. So we butchered them and they became soup.

When ever something hurt Pixie she would insist that we eat it. It didn't matter if it was another chicken, the cat, dog or sibling.

lonna said...

My grandparents always had chickens running around their yard until the city outlawed it (Southern Illinois). So I saw my grandmother choose a chicken, put it's head between the two nails in the shed, chop of its head, put it a hot bucket of water, a bucket of cold water, and then pluck out it's feathers after all of the blood drained away. I remember mostly being bothered by the different texture of the skin. I ate it with the rest of my family. I do know that I was never particularly fond of any poultry after that, but I did eat it. It's amazing how we can put the icky parts out of our mind.

NME said...

I think about this all the time. Noah looks at books and plays with toys and cheerfully exclaims "CHICKENS" but doesn't seem to make the connection when I tell him to "Eat your chicken." And why do we eat "chicken" and "turkey" when we don't say we are eating "cow" or "pig." Shouldn't they find some poultry equivalent words to beef and pork?

OH! And I've missed you dearly.

Kat said...

Awesome way to handle it. Give her the facts and let her figure out what she wants to do with the information.

JJisafool said...

Olivia did that same "bock bock?" thing, but she was eating (forgive me ~A~) soy "chik'n" nuggets at the time.

She's generally been okay with the idea of animals eating each other so far. I think because it has been largely unexamined.