The actual bird is not problematic. Chickens are actually kinda cute, some are downright beautiful. I’m not afraid of chickens or anything. I’m okay with them being alive. I’m okay with them dead all ready to be cooked. And I’m especially okay with eating them.
Bake it, fry it, roast it, whatever. Yum yum yum.
Where I fail as an African woman is getting said chicken from that live state into that ready to be cooked state.
Throughout Africa, it is not unusual to see a woman on the bus or minibus carrying a live chicken (the eating kind, not the laying kind) tied into a plastic bag with only its head out, or in a basket, or the like. This chicken is for dinner. The African woman will kill it, pluck it, and break it down in order to cook it for her family. (And it will be amazing because African chicken is soooo much better than any chicken I’ve ever eaten in America).
The only time I’ve been faced with any part of that process was in Zambia back in 2006. In case you’re new to my story, prior to my summer in Zambia, I had done very (VERY) little actual cooking. Didn’t really know how. I had never even made fried chicken. However, being very brave, I had purchased a number of chickens in order to make fried chicken for my team of TWENTY SEVEN people. Knowing it was likely that I wasn’t accustomed to slaughtering chickens, the woman from whom I purchased them quietly did that business out of my eye- and ear-shot and brought the now-dead chickens to me. She must have seen the rather horrified look on my face when I saw the pile of white feathered headless bodies as she immediately smiled and asked if I knew how to clean them. Which of course I didn’t. I also didn’t have a knife that would cut through bones even if I wanted to tackle the butchering part. So I paid her a little bit extra to do the job for me (and told her she could have all the “insides”). Less than an hour later, she returned with a big bowl of chicken pieces that looked a whole lot more like what I was used to seeing at home.
I would have tackled the plucking part, but it would have taken me about a day or two to do the job.
I’m not sure I would ever be able to do the killing part.
And for that, I would not make a good African woman.