It challenges a deeply cultivated sense of luxury to consider a roasted chicken as a delicacy. I suppose there are plenty of top notch chefs out there whose roast chickens are by their very nature the finest of meals, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a Sunday, make it at home yourself roasted chicken. Just a regular old Perdue roaster.
I roasted a chicken tonight.
I really, really wish I had taken a picture of it, but I was so blind with hunger that I tore into it immediately. I prepared it with this Hungarian chicken rub that I found, along with potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic. It was simple, never meant to be more than simple.
When I was a child we ate broiled chicken breast most nights of the week. Never in my life have I learned to loath a dish more than broiled chicken. This was my mother’s lazy standby for my two sisters, me, and my parents. It was a daily test of endurance, and I soon learned to stock up on other foods during the day so as to avoid an appetite at dinner.
Roast chicken, to me, tastes more or less like broiled chicken. I want to note that. My instinct is instant distaste. Sometimes when I’m eating out, I’ll get a chicken dish and the chicken will turn out to be roasted (esp, for example, when ordering chicken enchiladas). I have to pause and remind myself that I’m not at home. That my mom did not make this. It is mine. And it is delicious.
I absolutely do not need to eat a whole roasted seven pound chicken all by myself. I should have called some friends over (and, truly, I considered it). But this was the first time I’d roasted a bird, and I just had to have it all to myself.
There’s something wonderful, wonderful in the truest sense, that occurs when one pulls that bounty out of the oven and beholds it, overcome by its savory redolence and weak in the knees from a well earned appetite. A bounty. A giant bird, veggies, trimmings, whatever else you made with it (tonight: rice!).
There were two things commingling in my mind:
One, a sense of ability. The ability to provide a bounty. To take $7.00 worth of chicken and probably $3.00 worth of veggies, some spices, and to make a feast appear. It’s a small miracle, and as many times as I’ve witnessed it, I’m not in the habit of performing it.
Two, a sense of…. this one’s more complicated. It’s a sense of my mother. It’s a reproach against the resentment the became ingrained in me over those disgusting, execrable chicken dinners. It struck a chord as a failure to me, on her part, but this is because my sense of providing a home and her sense of providing a home are so very disparate. To her meals were sacred, but not for the food. Her food was always slapdash. It was for the sense of company. To me, the company is imminently critical, but nowhere near as paramount as providing for that company. Just this weekend I had the chance to make breakfast for someone, and the level of care exercised on my part was considerable (I have at long last discovered my personal secret ingredient for omelettes!). We didn’t even finish the breakfast, and that’s not the point. I don’t care if some of the food was wasted. The point is that when I play host, whether for a friend, a lover, or my family, it is important to me that I perform.
And somehow that brings me back to… chicken.
I guess this was just one of those places where Mom and I differed, and differed dramatically. And man, oh man, oh man did I learn to hate that fucking broiled chicken.
Tonight I roasted a chicken, and it was fucking awesome.
I can’t wait to have my mom and her husband up here for dinner, so that I can roast one for the both of them.