Hi there! I wasn't sure what was an appropriate as my FIRST blog post, so I decided to go with something that brought a big change in my life; slaughtering a chicken.
Please if this may be something that will make you feel uncomfortable don't scroll down!
Here we are at my boyfriend's aunt's backyard, where they keep the chicks (and some other farm animals). Some chickens were getting "too old" (about 4 months of age) so unfortunately, it was their time to go. Simple as that. The older they get the stiffer the meat. I suppose no one wants to eat tough meat!
I was there documenting, not sure how and where everything was going to happen. Somehow I was convinced that they were literally going to chop off its head with a guillotine of some sort though. Instead, the aunt grabbed the chicken, brought it to a grassy area, got out a sharp and small (in my opinion) knife and slit it down its throat. Blood immediately started to trickling down its neck and the bird remained alive for a couple of more minutes but it was done. So splatter of blood or birds screaming in agony or any sort of drama to my surprise.
Once the birds were brought to the garage/kitchen, it was time to pluck out their feathers. Another step in which I had no idea how it was to be done.
It turns out it's exactly as one would imagine it to be; you just start plucking. OK, before you soak it in hot water to help the feathers loosen up, but after that just "pluck, pluck, pluck".
Boy oh boy, was I mesmerized by how fast 90-year-old Nonna was! She just went right in there with her bare hands and started pulling them out. A born natural (if I may say so).
Once they were plucked clean, some final tweaks by scorching off tough and tiny feathers that were left and cleaning/declawing the feet.
At this point I declared,
"Well, that wasn't so bad! Next time I think I'll actually participate in the butchering and not just document the process."
Which I truly meant. By all means, it wasn't something pleasant to see, but at the same time, it is something that has to be done if you were to eat meat. And watching how hard these ladies were working it truly maybe me rethink,
"How could it be that the chicken sold in the supermarket is so cheap?!"
which may sound cliche but there truly is A LOT of work (and more to come) in butchering one single bird. Of course, the ones we see in the supermarket, everything is done mechanically, but do we want to be eating that kind of meat? And do we need to be eating that much meat in the first place? 90-year-old nonna lives off carbs (bread and pasta) and eats only a tiny piece of meat or one slice of prosciutto a day. And she's here with us butchering a chicken at 90!
So as I have said, up to this point I was fairly OK about the whole ordeal. That's because I thought we were pretty much done. NOPE, WRONG. You have to clean the insides as well OBVIOUSLY (I don't know why that part didn't cross my mind).
Pictures are worth a thousand words. Yes. But it cannot transmit a smell. And I'm telling you that was the worst part. Sure the gutting and intestines are gross and everything... but that smell was just plain old nasty, no other way to put it.
While I was freaking out by myself, Mamma goes,
"Would you rather eat it with the inside? "
No, ma'am no. If I ever slaughter one myself, I think this part I'm just going to hand to over to Mamma for the time being. In the end, it took us about 2 hours from killing to cleaning (another 2 hours or so if you want to add the cooking and eating part) to finish.
Of course, the experience made me appreciate more, the food that's on the table but furthermore, it made me realize how lucky I am living in this kind of surrounding. It's not easy living in the countryside of Italy, especially as a foreigner, I'll tell you that but I would not have been able to have this kind of experience, great food or the old fashioned Italian lifestyle if it weren't for Le Marche. This is something I should be truly thankful for (and of course the chickens that we just slaughtered).It's almost one year since I've moved here and I was starting to take things for granted I suppose!
Thanks for reading and see you next time!