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Mommy's Little Carnivore

The other night I made chicken enchiladas
for dinner. It’s a reasonably long process, involving
steaming several chicken breasts, shredding them, making a sauce,
rolling the enchiladas, and so forth. Since it’s a somewhat
complicated process I often double the recipe so I can have a pan
to freeze for later.

So I was standing at the counter shredding a mound of chicken
breasts with two forks when Maddie wandered over.

“What are you doing, Mommy?”

“I’m shredding chicken for dinner, baby,” I said
breathlessly as I hacked mercilessly away at those breasts.

“Hey, Mommy, I have a question! What does chicken come

Uh-oh. Now? We have to have this talk now?

“Baby,” I said carefully but
as matter-of-factly as I could, “Chicken comes from chickens.
You know, like the kind that run around a barn yard.”

“Oh,” said Maddie. “Like wool comes from

Really? We HAVE to have this talk now?”

“No, kiddo, the chicken we eat is the body of the chickens.
The insides. We have to kill a chicken to eat it.”

Maddie scrunched up her nose. “Really? Why do we have to kill
the chicken first? Why can’t we just cut it open and take out
what we need and then put it back together again?”

“Well,” I said, “you can’t cut something
open and take stuff out of it and then have it still be alive,
baby. That kills the animal.”

“But you said that the doctor cut you open and took me out of
you and you’re still alive,” she pointed out

Damn that high IQ.

“True, baby, and sometimes doctors do cut people open and
operate on them and sew them back up, but we are eating part of the
animal – the animal couldn’t survive without these

“Huh. What parts of the chicken exactly do we eat?” she
asked, peering closer into the bowl.

By this point my shredding is significantly less whole-hearted and
I’m starting to get a bit queasy myself.

“In general, we eat the muscles of the animal, kiddo, though
there are many other parts we could eat if we have to,” I
said, hoping not to elaborate.

Maddie stared quietly for a moment, and I feared I was about to
have several years of pain-in-the-tuchus vegetarianism on my hands.
And then she said, “Oh, that makes sense. A chicken
can’t walk around if we open it up and take its leg muscles
out. Better to just eat the whole thing.”

And then she walked off, content.

Whew. Dodged that one. Clearly I have a child who is not concerned
with her place in the food chain.

Just a teensy bit worried now.


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