Minor Differences: Don't Be A Chicken

· by wendy · ohio

I’d say our out of the ordinary lifestyle, at least for Cincinnatians (and probably Americans), began five years ago. We had decided to move to downtown Cincinnati, which people didn’t do back then. That’s dangerous. There were riots down there. Only unsuspecting idiots recently transfered to Cincinnati did that. They didn’t know any better.

A year later we moved down the road near University of Cincinnati in a $15,000 house that we updated just enough to get by. Then we did the most insane thing anyone could think of, WE SOLD OR GAVE AWAY ALL OF OUR POSSESSIONS and rented our house so we could travel South America top to bottom. The criticism was endless. We were called crazy, selfish and irresponsible to our faces. God knows what people said behind our backs.

After nearly 14 months of travel in 2 different continents and across the U.S., it’s not a shocker that we have changed even more. Aside from our now heightened minimalist attitude, we also adopted a new “diet”. To call it a diet seems strange since it basically consists of eating real food instead of the overly processed American diet. A minimalist mindset and a real food diet are not popular among the Americans around us.

Again, we’re nuts.

On one recent night, I wondered if the constant stream of criticism and debate about our choices would ever come to an end. I came to a realization, it probably won’t. Most people may NEVER understand us because they do not share similar experiences. On the flip side, we do not share theirs and thus we will have a difficult time understanding them. It’s hard to remember this, no matter how much I try. Even when someone shows interest in topics that interest us, I must make a mental note that we will likely still have differences in opinion. Especially because we may be considered to be EXTREME. That’s not to say that I think we’re special. I just mean that finding others that match our extreme undertakings and attitudes is nearly impossible. Honestly, who sells all of their stuff, anyway?

Do you ever lay in bed awake at night and think, “Huh, how’d I end up thinking about this?” and then you backtrack until you get to the thought that started it all? I find this game to be pretty fun for some reason. One evening, soon after I had a very minor difference in opinion with a friend, I thought, “How did I end up this way?” And so, I played the backtracking game thinking about what experiences I have had that give me this differing view point. It helped me to get a better understanding of our disagreement, however minor. I hope to remember to play this game when something of actual importance comes up. In the future I hope to post more stories like this, as I think it’s revealing, fun and hopefully, interesting. You be the judge.

Don’t Be A Chicken

A friend of mine had informed me that she has a hard time eating dark meat after years of it being ingrained in her that dark meat is fattening. Like I said, so minor in the big scheme of things…hardly earth shattering. But yet, it was something that differed between us. I tried to understand her side as I know eating habits are difficult to change. After all, I too, once had an aversion to dark meat. At the same time I thought to myself that her line of thinking was a little old school and that she should, “just get over it and eat it”. I then stopped myself and wondered, “Hmm, how’d I get here?”

Here’s how:

Before we left on our first long travel adventure, I had found interest in cooking. Part of the interest was in looking for ways to spend less in our food budget so we could save more money for travel. One trick I learned was how to bone a chicken or remove all the limbs and parts from a chicken carcass. Buying a chicken whole is much cheaper, coming in at under $2/lb. I was sloppy, awkward and a little disgusted at first, but soon got the hang of it letting nothing go to waste. We shredded up and ate the chicken, dark meat and all and used the bones to make homemade stock.

Ok, so that’s when I started eating dark meat, but what’s with the hostility toward her not eating it? I continued….

I realized how much this trick came in handy once we had begun our trip in South America. In Ecuador, at the market they only sell chickens whole. That meant the addition of the head, neck and feet. These are not part of the normal American whole chicken and frankly, it skeved me out. Luckily, the lady at the market “took care” of the head for me so I didn’t have to deal with it. The feet came home with us, which I decided to see as an opportunity for further culinary exploration.

Dusty got a surprise in his dinner that night.

Unfortunately, in the next town, I didn’t pay close attention when ordering my chicken and arrived at our hostel with one whole chicken staring back at me. Crap. I’d now have to deal with this head once and for all. Have you ever used a knife in a hostel? Dull as a spoon. I hacked at the base of the neck for probably 10 minutes, cringing the entire time. Eventually, I had grossed myself out enough to take a break. That’s when I noticed a slit between the top of the neck and the head and took the opportunity to cut that sucker off.

I gagged.

Sweaty and queasy from all of the gagging, I cut the rest of the chicken up and got the breasts into a saute pan. The pan had seen better days, like 50,000 of them. One release of the handle found my chicken and pan on the floor. A cockroach scurried across the counter.

I cried.

WTF. I picked our dinner up off the floor, rinsed it and threw it back in the pan. Dusty was none the wiser. I choked that meal down, not because it didn’t taste fine but the trauma of hacking away at heads and necks while cockroaches scurry by was all too much.

So, you see, there are worse things in life. You could have to hack the head off of a chicken with a spoon or be served rubbery feet in your soup. I’ll take the dark meat, it’s not so bad. And that my friends is just one reason I am a different individual.

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