April 30, 2006. 1:00 p.m.
The Man of La Muncha and I make our way to our local farmer’s market. It’s a lovely Northwest afternoon (note: “lovely” means “not hailing and not pouring rain”. It is in fact cloudy and cool). We buy miner’s lettuce, an olive bread made from locally harvested wheat, rapini, leeks, eggs, cheese, and potatoes. As we saunter through the market, discussing what else we wanted and deciding what, exactly, we were going to do with all of it, we come upon the Skagit River Ranch stall. The Skagit River Ranch is outside of Sedro-Woolley, Washington, which is about an hour and a half north of Seattle, and sells grass-fed and finished beef, pork, and chicken. The chicken, at least according to the brochure (as the Dairy Queen says, Must investigate!) is completely free-range and lives on grubs and grass, much as described by Michael Pollan. The Man of La Muncha and I stop and look, and then walk on, discussing Pollan’s contention that chicken that “tastes like chicken” isn’t really what chicken is supposed to taste like–chicken is actually supposed to taste like chicken. As this discussion progresses, we decide that we want to find out if a chickeny chicken is really so different from a non-chickeny chicken. So I run back to the stall, only to discover that they are sold out. A solemn young girl, probably about eleven years old, tells me that we need to get to the market early if we want a chicken, since they tend to sell out. In short, no chicken for us. However, since the Man of La Muncha and I had already discussed what we were going to do with our now non-existent chicken in great detail, we decide to go to Whole Foods and pick up a Rosie roaster.
It tastes like chicken.
May 7, 2006. 11:30 a.m.
This week, the Man of La Muncha and I get to the market the market by 11:30, with the understanding that the market had opened at 11:00. We make a beeline for the meat stall, where we find George, the proprietor of Skagit River Ranch. We pop open the top of the chicken cooler, enormously excited about our clever plan, to find…nothing. Aghast, we ask George if he has any more chicken. He informs us that he had sold out of chicken shortly after the market had opened at 10:00 (not 11:00, damnit, but 10:00). After additional conversation (he mentions Pollan’s book, and said that he’d been out to the farm earlier that week), he suggests that we try to get there earlier next week, though there is only a 50% chance of chicken the following week. We thank him, buy some grass-fed beef (hamburger and flat-iron steak–the steak goes into a stir-fry later in the week and is quite tasty), and then buy some more rapini, some spinach, and some apples, and make our way home. We had been excitedly discussing our roaster all week, but once again end up buying a Rosie.
It still tastes like chicken.
May 14, 2006. 10:00 a.m. This week, the Man of La Muncha, our friend J, and I meet at our house by 9:00
to plan our attack. We start our walk down to the market at 9:30 a.m. and once again make a beeline for the meat stall. Success! There are four, count ‘em, FOUR roasters sitting in the cooler. The Man of La Muncha and I buy two (as well as some bacon. Mmm…bacon…), while J buys a third. We perform a triumphant Chicken Dance in celebration, complete with arm flapping and strutting. (Okay, not really. Nor do we shout “Boo-ya!” while bumping chests. We bask in quiet self-congratulation instead). We also pick up some mizuna, bread, cheese, and more leeks and head home.
Up next: What the Man of La Muncha did to our hard-won chicken. And how it tasted.