What is chicken?
At the supermarket it lies fresh behind glass walls, pink colored and attractive. Dissected into limbs and flesh: breasts and thighs for display and purchase. The skin is pale and is reminiscent fresh shaved skin, the lips desire to be sinking in the wetness it promises. When the knife cuts it apart, the skin shears into a clitoral softness. My fingers glide in to tenderize with citric massages and hot chilli bath immersions.
It is nothing like a carrot or an aubergine. It is unlike meat: the idea of a cow or an octopus. It is not grotesque and it can hide in plain sight. Between loaves of bread or floating in the endless sunshine beach of a golden curry. A chicken calls us to its pleasures in innocence, we dive mouth long into delicious bites without paying attention. What is chicken, really?
A chicken is a bird, it has emotions and it is alive. It flies in vast cages we built for it, waiting in its habitat of the KFC menu. They are happy to be eaten, a male fantasy almost – of divine flesh waiting to be consumed without a scruple. Chickens are the universal totem of hospitality and kindness, a well cooked chicken is the structural requirement of a great cuisine.
A chicken cannot be imagined outside its fleshiness. Pink, that magnificent fruit of loins cannot be anything alive. There is no conscience in eating a chicken. It is a dead thing, but not an ugly dead thing. Unlike a swished spider or a decapitated man, it is something that inspires through its gruesomeness. One can even say that its gruesomeness makes it inspiring, an anomaly in a life of empathy.
We are not interested in the way a chicken comes to us, packaged in cheap supermarket plastic wraps. I have spent my entire life not knowing what a chicken is, my only affection towards it is its flesh itself. Can this be called an iteration of carnal love? Think about it, by the time the chicken sits in a supermarket refrigerator ready for purchase, it has been raised, slaughtered, transported, stocked and sold by tens of different people. A chicken moves not by itself but through the work of these faceless humans, creating a distance between the act of killing and the act of eating. These layers of transaction helps inanimate the chicken, its life's worth discarded for some money.
The chicken has no friends, it is not worshipped like the cow or haraam like the pig. The universal currency of the animal lies in its consumption itself. There is no curiosity towards the chicken, only hunger. The cost of eating a chicken is the cost we pay for the value of life itself – if we can be universally so detached to a bird to strip its identity completely, it demonstrates a narcissism that one only has to see to believe. What is true for the chicken is true for anything else, from the planet and in an ironic finality to humans ourselves.
I'll leave the train of thought to other thinkers but for now, I will have my fried chicken with hot sauce.
I am human.