What I’m not

Pub date March 11, 2009
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink

› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS I never should have given away my chickens. I should have bonked their heads off and plucked them and cut them up and put them in the freezer. How unfarmerly of me to give them away! I knew I would regret it, but didn’t know it would hit me like this, right here, right now, in New York City.

Tomorrow night I’m doing a reading here. It’s so cold. I keep clicking my heels together and not going anywhere. It’s so, so, so, so cold, like, zero. I’m wearing everything I brought, including three pairs of panties under my tights and jeans and skirts and dresses, and two coats. And I’m still cold all the time. And then I go into a building and it’s 110 degrees, and I’m stripping down to just poetry.

People keep looking at me, outside and inside, and I want to be able to say, "I’m a chicken farmer."

But I’m not.

Tomorrow night I will stand up in front of a lot of people (I hope) in a place where a lot of great writers have stood and read, and I will want to take off my clothes and say, "I’m a chicken farmer."

But I’m not.

After my reading here I get to go to Pittsburgh and read and then Cleveland and read and then after that I get to be on a train again, to Chicago then Oakland, where there aren’t any chickens waiting in my freezer, because I couldn’t be bothered and gave them away.

My new favorite coffeehouse is in SoHo. It’s called City Girl Café, and it’s better than Joe or Joe’s or any of the other million places where I’ve thawed out over coffee in this cold, slushy city, last couple days.

My new favorite Thai restaurant, in spite of great red curry duck last night, is in Oakland, you’ll be happy to hear. Rockridge, of course. Sabuy Sabuy, a cozy, unpretentious hole-in-the-wall on the corner of College and Broadway. I ate there with Kiz on the night before I left, and it was raining and cold, come to think of it.

Kiz had just come back from St. Louis, where she’d helped her brother, who had had his nose changed by a sidewalk. I have walked on St. Louis sidewalks; they are not nurturing. As a result of which, it didn’t heal right and they had to re-break and reset it, in a slightly happier way.

I know Kiz’s brother, and I like him. His name is Kez. Kiz said he was doing well and wasn’t being all mentally bothered by all this. Which, I would of been. Sidewalks, noses … are you kidding me? But now that I am a city girl and not a chicken farmer, I suppose I should get used to such combinations.

Sabuy Sabuy’s signature "special duck" dish is double-cooked (I’m guessing roasted and fried), and served with spinach and pickled ginger ($11.95). Very, very good. The duck was crispy and juicy and just wonderful. And … pickled ginger! It’s about time people start plopping down pickled ginger next to something other than sushi.

I was even more taken by a soup I’d never seen before on a Thai menu. Soup woonsen, which was a clear broth with glass noodles, napa cabbage, and these great meatballs made out of an unlikely roll-up of marinated pork and chopped prawns ($7.95).

We ate something else too, but I can’t remember what it was.

Someone wrote to me, a fan, and asked how to butcher a chicken. At least I think that’s what they asked. After you sever the head, they said, what next?

OK. You let the blood drip (oh, and stop reading two sentences ago if you don’t want to know), but you dunk your feathered ex-friend into almost boiling water for a half a minute or so. Then, while it’s still pretty warm, you pull out all the feathers, and scald off with a flame what you can’t get with your fingers.

There is more than one way to outside the insides of a chicken. I like to use poultry shears. First I cut around the "vent" (or "butthole"), then … then …

Oh, look it up online, why don’t you. This is not my thing.


Lunch: Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

Dinner: Daily 5–9:30 p.m.

5231 College, Oakl.

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L.E. Leone’s new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.