Edible Nonfiction: Today's pick
George, Neil, Two Chickens and Me by Signe Langford
I gave up meat at 13 as an act of hero worship. George Harrison was vegetarian, so I would be too.
Dinner that night was Mother's boiled chicken - something I absolutely loved, but for George, I would forgo the tender meat and rich broth.
At 34 I came limping back - after much pleading from my doctor - heavy with guilt, weak and pasty from lack of iron and completely exhausted for want of B12.
"Will you eat some chicken?" She asked.
"No!" I would be sick. Horrified. Committing an evil for which there would be no forgiveness, only endless guilt.
"Will you at least have some broth?"
That I could do.
Walking home with my bird, I hatched a plan. I would toss it in the oven and once it was roasted I would simmer it into soup, passing the meat along to someone less righteous - the dog, perhaps. So with the bird in the oven I left to run errands.
Arriving home, I was greeted by an aroma so welcoming, so nourishing. In the kitchen - my winter mittens still on - I pulled the bird from the oven. It was golden and crispy-skinned and tiny rivulets of clear juice and fat sputtered forth here and there.
Half a bird later, in front of my own internal judge and jury, I explained how I was overcome with a cavewoman-like carnivorous hunger so strong, so undeniable, so primal, that, dropping one mitten to the counter I tore off a succulent, juicy leg. Oh, and it gave so easily. Bone slipping from joint, meat falling from bone, skin crunching between teeth. It was good. Every cell of my body reached up to meet it in my mouth.
Anyway, I didn't love George anymore. My heart now belonged to Neil Young: poet, Canadian icon, meat-eater.
Signe Langford is from Toronto, ON