Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Sunday with Elfie


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.


13 comments:

Catalyst said...

Well, it's a nice picture of you and Elfie, anyway.

Sabine said...

Welcome to Elfie, she is gorgeous.

Your chicken story brought back memories of my days living in a rural commune in Wiltshire where none of us residents had the guts to kill the ailing rooster but watched in awe when a visiting very pregnant feminist artist carelessly did the job AND ate the liver all by herself.

The Crow said...

How attentive Elfie is to the television. You'll know you're in trouble, though, when she fights you for the remote! :)

Zhoen said...

She's so pretty.

I've never had a fresh chicken in my life. Only in the last ten years have I had fresh eggs, which are amazing. City girl, you know.

Zhoen said...

Oh, I mean to ask, are there such things as agility courses in your part of the world?

Roderick Robinson said...

What terrible risks you take; many cooks prefer to think of their constituents as being independent of living processes, somehow arriving from outer space, definitely without gall bladders. But there you go, dispassionately poking about in reality, even admitting to owning a publication from that equivocal company which intellectuals would normally deny houseroom.

And then the final delicious sting - the further (implied) admission that there are at least two JCs worthy of contemplation. The modern one is said to be unelectable but in this day and age that is surely a compliment. Imagine FDR (paralysed from the waist down) or the wildly white-haired Welsh demagogue facing up to today's ragtops and TV cameras. Totally and hideously unelectable the experts would say, and they would probably be right.

JC is England's DT and shares the same giddy appeal. You can see the temptation: why not vote for him just to see what happened? Potential catastrophe lost in palpitating anticipation.

Avus said...

That delightful photo completely encapsulates the joys of dog ownership. Happy and contented, both. Elfie has found a good home.
I have found that the single command "no", said very sharply, covers such things as "drop" or "leave" or "stop doing that". That canine brain has less to understand then.

Fire Bird said...

She looks entirely at home. Lovely.

Rouchswalwe said...

So much animal adventure in one short post. Wow. I would submit that Tom is taking care of his girls, taking a wonderful photo and rescuing the chicken situation. The man with the camera. The man with the shears. Wow.

polish chick said...

oy, chicken, my least favourite meat, though i'm starting to use the ground version more often in meatballs and the like - apparently better for you than beef, and, mixed with some pork and a lot of herbs, tastes hardly chickeny at all.

then again, i do like it baked. and a friend shared a recipe that is based on bancetta, white wine and fresh rosemary that is really something special, so i guess my dislike isn't all encompassing.

Lucy said...

Thanks all, I did try to answer your nice comments once already, stalled at RR's DT/JC comparison, went to bed and lost it all! Anyway...

Cat - well thanks, we still had a good day really. I think she's kind of toughening me up a bit...

Sabine - heheh! She was probably practising for eating her placenta. I really like chicken liver, but prefer it to come separated from the chicken in a plastic tub.

Crow - mmm. She'd probably rather be watching Game of Thrones!

Z - in fact this did come from the supermarket all wrapped in plastic. It's a country supermarket though. Our neighbour used to keep chickens for eating; after the first time he uses to wait till we went out before killing them, which was tactful. They had plenty of growing time and green space; he once gave me one of them as a thank you for something, all beautifully seen to and oven ready, best chicken I ever tasted. I have wondered about agility, and I think there are some possibilities round here. For the moment we're just working on getting her settled in, but I think she's a dog one could do a lot with.

Robbie - the chicken did in fact look like a standard over ready job, and doesn't have the really smelly bits. I'm still a wuss really about stuff like that. As the your DT/JC comparison, I can see what you're driving at, out of the left field, disenchantment with the establishment etc, though of course they are the antithesis of each other in almost every other way, which may underline the ways in which the two cultures are antithetical. On reflection it may have been Nicaragua Solidarity, which was a very trendy cause at the time. That kind of legwork showing up on the international activist scene was something he was always appreciated for, of course, and in those days under Thatcher, with Kinnock, Scargill, Hatton etc on the other side, he was a rare political face one could welcome. It seemed to me then, and still does, that the support for Latin American dictatorships, torture and death squad regimes was one of the unequivocal evils of American, and British, Cold War foreign policy. Enemies' enemies make bad friends; in truth I could never be doing with the rather shifty quasi-sympathy for Galtieri's Argentina's claim on the Falklands much more than with Thatcher's billing and cooing with Pinochet. But eating manky chicken was perhaps taking solidarity with oppressed Latin American people a step too far... Dilettantism rules.

Reply to be continued...

Lucy said...

Avus - cute eh? (Elfie that is). She later very sweetly offered up one of Tom's gardening gloves to me, and she has just conceded a very small, very dead shrew she had just found to me without argument. She's not a great bird dog, happily, she just happened to get lucky, and she doesn't seem to like water at all, which is something to be thankful for. Rabbits on the other hand...

FB - nice to see you! She enjoys a matinee; I seem to remember you bought me the vinyl single of 'Bright Eyes' when we were about fifteen!

RS - Yes, and Tom and Elfie are on quite a love buzz now, even though he did call her a little savage after the bird episode. The chicken is defrosting and awaiting his attentions this weekend, and she and I are looking forward to gizzards and liver respectively.

PC - it tends to be our default meat protein, and we do the Jack Spratt thing (http://www.mothergooseclub.com/videos/jack-sprat-nursery-rhyme/) with a whole one. It does profit from, and need, plenty of additional flavours, garlic is a favourite hereabouts. I've not seen minced chicken here, that I recall, found some nice minced pork the other day, even that's unusual, but find mincing my own meat is really not satisfactory, even though we bought one of those traditional ten-ton mincers made in the Czech Republic or somewhere. Anyway, Tom's not so fond of mince based foods, which is a pity as I am rather. He made a magnificent rabbit terrine (sorry Fiver and co!) a while back with some fillets left in the freezer by our friends who stayed, he minced them in the food processor and everything, and hardly ate any of it.

Julia said...

Reminds me of Callac market and the weekly question, "Sans tête, ou avec?"