Tastes Like Chicken

Hope to eventually publish a book of my essays. This will probably be included.


Tastes Like Chicken

Just about every time I turn on water or stop to enjoy a gurgling stream a message races to my brain, bypasses the red tape and says, “You have to pee.” There must be a name for that auto-response. I discovered another one yesterday. Henry, my eight year old grandson, likes Triscuit and peanut butter sandwiches that I fix to snack on when we go hiking in Kanawha State Forest.

The other day I fixed him another snack he likes–Charleston Bread Store multi-grain bread and peanut butter sandwiches. In his snack bag I included some loose Triscuits. He was disappointed that there was no peanut butter on the Triscuits. Genius that he is (I kid you not), he invented a new sandwich. He put Triscuits between the bread slices with the peanut butter. Henry smiled with inventor’s pride and declared it awesome.

Yesterday our trip to Kanawha State Forest was cancelled. Breakfast this morning was two small peanut butter sandwiches prepared yesterday for Henry’s snack. But first I remembered Henry’s delight in what he called his invention. I got the box down and added Triscuits to the peanut butter sandwich.

After a couple of chews of the crunchy Triscuit immersed in fat peanut butter and softened some by the bread, my brain said, “This is fried chicken.” It was crunchy like fried chicken and it was fat like fried chicken. And everybody likes fried chicken as my friend Paul Gartner said when he was the banjo playing member of a trio called Fried Chicken.

 Yes! Now I can eat Henry’s invention and get the same pleasure as eating crunchy, fat, fried chicken. No more hiring anonymous butchers in blood splattered aprons to kill, scald, shave or pluck and gut a fellow piece of meat.

Just once I butchered an oxygen breathing, but not too smart, fellow earth walker. I caught a noisy old guinea hen, executed it and watched it lurch headless around the yard. After scalding it with boiling water, I plucked it bald, sliced it open and pulled its guts out. I couldn’t eat it. Since then I have hired an executioner for my meals of flesh.

I can eat cooked flesh if I don’t have to rip its guts out. But it must be well done. I want no blood dripping or pink reminding me of that tough old guinea hen.

Many years ago on the farm at fall butchering time, before I became sensitive to the death of other animals and to seeing their guts pouring out of hung carcasses, grandpa threw us kids the bladder of the dead hog. We blew air into it through a hollow stickweed, tied it off like a balloon and kicked our “pigskin” up and down the hilly pasture.

Could all this be self-incriminating in future trials in which vegetarians bring charges of murder and mutilation of fellow earth walkers? Perhaps I can ask for mercy based on my preference for Tricuits, peanut butter and multi-grain bread. I won’t testify that it tastes just like chicken.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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