Fear of the unexpected

I read in the paper today that there are people in the thick of the cities growing chickens. They have started web sites to tell you how to build a chicken coop on a high rise terrace and what to do if, once the chickens take up residence at your place, you’re afraid of your own backyard.
I babysat once for a family down the road from us–and we lived in the city–and round about midnight when I was sure the parents may have forgotten to come home all together, I heard a quack. I hit the floor and didn’t move. Eventually, out of respect for my job, I crawled to the phone. I was trying to remember if my mother was afraid of farm life and I thought she might hesitate coming over to look for the poultry. I thought about calling the police. I hate talking to people I don’t know in these situations. I called my mother. “Mom” I said, “I’m pretty sure I heard a duck.” “That’s ridiculous,” she said “go to sleep.” Something triggered the duck and you could plainly hear both the duck and the chicken. I held up the phone for my mother. “Jesus Christ”, she said, “what the hell are people keeping wild animals in the house for.”
My thoughts exactly. There will be no chickens in my backyard. If you need more flavor because you can’t get a chicken that’s lived long enough, there are plenty of other options. I’m making curried meatballs with the same old mix, 1 pound of ground organic chix, half a chopped, sauted onion with thyme and parsley and a minced garlic clove (a piece of lemon grass if you have it), about a 1/3 of a cup of fresh bread crumbs that have soaked in whole milk till mush, and an egg. Season with salt and a little ground pepper. Fry up a little one so that you can taste it for seasoning. Brown in a heavy saute pan and remove. Now for the sauce. Chop up the other half of the onion and fry it in a little butter and olive oil, scraping up the bits of brown from the meatblass. with a two inch piece of fresh ginger, a few chopped green onions, another minced garlic clove and a bay leaf. Toast a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seed. Grind them up in the mortar and pestle, and add them to the onion mixture with 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of garam masala (spice mixture) or curry powder and taste. Add 1/2 cup of water or stock, and let reduce a little bit. Off the heat, swirl in a tablespoon of room temperature butter. Add the meatballs and serve with rice and minted peas.

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