I have never cooked a whole turkey. I haven't even cooked a whole chicken. Beyond cooking one, I've never seen an animal killed. I've never been on a farm while animals were being killed and I've never seen a whole carcass besides the bloated roadkill on a rural asphalt shoulder.
Yesterday at the grocery store, they had freshly killed whole chickens. This included their heads and feet, completely attached to their bodies. I actually stopped in the aisle and stared at them, inspecting their forms - looking at the glazed coating over their eyes, their full beaks attached, and their scaly feet. I've wanted to cook a full bird for some time. I feel like it is a requirement as a married adult - at some point, you have to cook a full bird. Me being me, I wanted to start small. When I say small, I mean small - Cornish Game Hen small. I got more than I bargained for even with the small size of such a bird.
Thanksgiving was not a day for kitchen observations. I liked the smell. I never watched my mother removing giblets or trimming skin. Needless to say, I didn't realize I needed to thaw the small birds well in advance. My little hens were still slightly icy even after defrosting in the microwave. I took my kitchen shears to the little birds and cut into the dimpled skin. Piece by stretchy piece I cut off the skin and fat. Finally able to get the majority off, I stretched the little buggers open to see inside. Lucky for me, the giblets were still frozen solid to the bodies. So after a long shower under a hot faucet, I was able to get the giblets out, I think. I'm not entirely sure, because I've never gutted a bird of any size before. All I know is that it looked like the innards were out. After a good rub down of rosemary, lemon, salt, pepper, and garlic, I finally got to use my meat thermometer for the first time. So my house smells like little cooking birds - yummy! I can't wait to see if my experiment works!
It makes the whole process more real for me - the death of animals for human sustenance. After watching Food Inc. and talking with friends about the food industry, I can't bring myself to eat fast food (at least not the meat kind) and I find it difficult to even buy meat in the grocery store. My new found understanding of food production makes me want to have a subsistence farm - complete with chickens, herbs, vegetables, and maybe even some goats. It's not for everyone. Until now I wasn't entirely sure I could even handle the cleaning process necessary for preparing meat. Now I know I can. I also know, I would rather raise the animals myself than buy meat from an industrial slaughterhouse. If everyone ate less meat, raised animals themselves, or purchased meat from ethical farmers, the world would be a lot better place. It just starts with an egg, or maybe a hen. ...Or maybe an egg.