Mother’s Day this year was a bit unconventional, but it was probably my favorite Mother’s Day to date. My wonderful husband let me sleep in a bit, a very rare occurrence since the kiddos are early risers.
Then we went to the Farmer’s Market (which is one of my favorite places!) where I loaded up on fresh produce for the week, including cherries, apricots, and peaches. Summer fruits are here!
With full bellies, we drove to a farm in Manteca, CA to get some fresh chickens. My in-laws have told me for years that fresh chickens, which they call “jungli” (wild), make a tastier gravy. The meat is tougher, and the birds are leaner with less breast meat, but jungli murgha make a tastier curry indeed.
At the farm, I watched as the five murgha (rooster) my father-in-law chose were put head-first into a cone-shaped plastic thingy that held them in place as they were slaughtered. It was quick and efficient. Then, the birds were thrown into a large metal container of hot water and tumbled for a few minutes to wash them, soften the skin and prepare for de-feathering. The murgha went from their bath into another large metal container that spun them through rubber “fingers”; this removed all the feathers. All this happened in less than 10 minutes. Amazing!
We (my husband, father-in-law, the kids, and I) watched as the murgha were cleaned (which we paid an extra dollar for–so worth it!). My father-in-law then took them out to a metal grate where he burned off the fine feathers and hairs that remained using a propane-powered torch. The birds went in plastic bags inside a cooler for the trip home.
As we drove home, I thought about how different this was from anything I had ever seen, but which was very normal for my husband’s family. Both of my in-laws grew up on farms, and they regularly go to local farms to get chickens and goats, which I have eaten dozens of times over the years. Even though it is unfamiliar, the process is not distasteful to me as I imagine it might be to the average American. I am not squeamish, nor do I have a romanticized idea about how my food makes its way to my table. I actually really enjoyed going to the farm and taking part in the process of bringing home the bacon, er chicken. My husband and I also believe it is important to expose our kids to all types of experiences, including seeing where their food comes from. To us, growing tomatoes in the backyard and watching chickens being slaughtered is equally important to their life education. Both result in tasty meals, too!
We kept two of the five chickens. One we cut into curry pieces and froze for later use; the other we left whole and I roasted him yesterday (see recipe here). The meat was a bit tough, but it tasted delicious, and I enjoyed the fact that I saw where my meal had originated. Thanks, Mr. Rooster, for feeding my family!