Watching Watership Down in the afternoon.
|"Look, I've been a dog with a job, now I'm sitting watching cartoon rabbits..."|
This was after we had retrieved a drowned cat from out of our garden pond (the lairy neighbourhood tom, pushing his luck once too often in pursuit of our goldfish, I think/hope, rather than someone's beloved minou, it was hard to tell), and before we had retrieved a dead greenfinch out of Elfie's mouth (it was dead when she found it under the Mexican orange bush, I think/hope). We are now working on the command 'drop'.
Then I found that the burly free-range chicken I was looking forward to roasting for our Easter Sunday dinner was not in fact prêt à cuire, as they usually are but merely effilé. I have come across them with the giblets in a bag inside, and I have learned to cook a poule, rather than a poulet, which could give Paula Radcliffe a run for her money in the stringiness department, slowly so it turns into delectable shreds in a tasty broth, but effilé I have never had to deal with before. It means it has been drawn, so the intestines have been removed, but the remaining organs are all in place and attached. There is a depiction here. At least it didn't still have its head on.
Even so, I announced that after everything else that day there was no way I could cope with this, and I was going to go and face ridicule and give it to Victor. However, Tom said don't do that, he would deal with it and turn it into curry, but not now. I was surprised at this, but then remembered this is a man who owns a pair of poultry shears and isn't afraid to use them, so I put it in the freezer and we ate the potatoes roasted with the garlic cloves I was planning to stuff inside the chickens nicely empty cavity, with some hastily defrosted chipolatas.
The last episode brought back two memories. The first was of my mum buying a couple of chickens when I was a kid from an Asian stall on High Wycombe market, probably suspiciously cheap. They were completely undrawn, so still contained their intestines. I sat in the kitchen and read the instructions to her from the Readers' Digest Cookery Year, a book I still own. She bodged the first one and burst its gall bladder, the smell of which pervaded the house. The second was OK. I guess we must have eaten them, though I'm not sure either of us fancied them much by then.
The second was of lunch at a day out in the eighties of the El Salvador Solidarity Campaign in Islington. There was chicken stew as well as a vegetarian option, and the chicken tasted distinctly as if it had been badly drawn. Jeremy Corbyn was speaking (I imagine he got lucky and had the vegetarian option). He warned against the dangers of dilettantism, I recall. I probably should have listened to him.