Wednesday, June 03, 2009


As a child, I was pretty much allowed to eat anything available, at any time. Daddy often quoted some family doctor who had told them (referring to me), "We don't care what she eats, just as long as she eats." There were lots of foods I didn't care for when I was small, and I was never forced to eat those. By the time I reached adulthood, I started sampling everything I had passed up in my younger years and found out I liked all of it. Some dishes more than others, of course.

My mother was one of five children, and like most families back then, all the food on their table was home-grown. Chicken, I believe, was the main meat dish served out on the farm.

There's something I never thought about until recent years: My grandma, my mother, and some of my uncles and cousins, could be heard making the strangest statements when a platter of chicken was passed around:

"I love the neck."

"The gizzard is my favorite."

"Are all the wings gone? I love the wings!"

Yes, while I was reaching for a meaty drumstick or a nice wishbone, my Stevens relatives were fighting over the least-desirable parts of the chicken.

Those same relatives liked fat, whether it was on a pork chop or ham or a beef roast. "I love the fat," my mother would exclaim, sticking her fork in a reject piece I'd pushed to the side of my plate.

I now have a theory about these strange tastes my relatives had: Times were hard when they were growing up, and in a family with five children, one chicken might not go far. Especially considering those children worked up big appetites doing chores around the farm.

My uncles, I believe, all grew to be six feet tall, so their bodies needed a lot of fuel. I think my grandma did a bit of subtle brainwashing: with seven people at the table and only two drumsticks and two or three breast pieces, I think Grandma reached for the neck, praising it for the flavor, telling the children that was her favorite piece, for two reasons: One, because the mom always takes the smallest portion if there isn't much to go around... or she may even do without. (Ladies, can I get a witness to this?) Two, the more she praised those bony pieces (or the tough gizzard, or the fat), the more the kids grew to accept that those items were indeed prizes to be desired.

It's just a theory.

Over the years, I've developed a taste for fat (now that it's the last thing I need), and I love chicken wings, as long as there are several available; I'm not going to settle for just one, like Grandma was willing to do.

I'll still pass on the neck and the gizzard, though.


Hollie said...

I believe you are right about your theory. There were five of us growing up. We also grew everything we ate. There were no grocery store trips except for flour & sugar. Those were hard times, but they were good times also.

m.v. said...

I like chicken gizzards and livers but not the rubbery ones everybody loves so much from "go chicken go", neck is just too much work.

Paula said...

I remember Mama trying to make me eat green peas (called them English peas) at Grandma's house but Grandma said I didn't have to. I detested them and now I like them. I also like chicken wings and never did before. You always have a way of bringing back the memories.

Hyperblogal said...

My Grandmother liked the neck too... but there were only three of them in the family so she might actually have meant it. My Mother seldom served chicken or rice when I was growing up apparently because those things were more often available during WWII than others and she got sick of them.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It was about the same with my family. My mom and dad love those odd parts and pieces too!
Good memories...

Carlene Noggle said...

It was the very sam eat our house Donna...mama always said she loved the back and neck and the odd assortmnet of "innards"! God bless all their good old hearts...all the ones who did without so that their children may have.