Southern Angola, early nineties...

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Muamba da Galinha. A Peasant Dish and one of my favorites

How dare we kill an animal to eat its flesh and then throw half of it away?

I respect people who choose to be Vegetarians, Vegans or even Venusians (those who refuse to eat Cadbury's Eggs or pasta) but I feel sorry for their kids, who are just busting for a MacWhopper with Chips and a Milk Shake.

We raise our own animals here with the intention of killing and eating them.  Mainly chickens as none of us has had the guts to take a knife to Goosie's neck.  He's an ornery beast and will nip your ankles if you're not paying attention but he's part of the scenery now and keeps the dogs in line and unwelcome visitors from darkening my door.  As a recluse, I can thoroughly recommend a goose as a guard so I can't bring myself to eat him.  There are so many parallels between us.  He wanders the garden chewing everything and everyone in sight because he is on his own and I wander my lounge at night with a gutful of whisky suffused with the stark realisation I might as well be on my own.  Neither of us are getting our leg over.  At least I have TV.

So I kill chickens for food.

I have done a lot of hunting in my time and I have one hunting rule which I have passed on to my oldest boy and will, in due course, pass on to little Alex: 'Don't kill anything you aren't going to eat'.  Technically, by my simple rule and with a decent lawyer on your payroll, if you had the appetite and a big enough freezer, you could legally blow way an elephant and have enough ivory to carve a lifetime's supply of toothpicks but I think you all know where I am coming from.  As omnivores, we have to kill to survive but what we do kill, should be sustainable and we should use all of it.

I could say, 'They are only chickens'.  But I saw every one of them emerge into this world and every single one of them eats grain out of my hand.  They will sit on my shoulder or on my lap.  I don't have fleas but they will peck in my hair like female gorillas grooming an alpha male.  And then I select one and chop its head off.

If you are going to kill an animal, then be prepared to eat it.  From its arse to its lips.  Does Kentucky Fried Chicken offer packets of fried chicken lips?  I never died from eating a Big Mac or a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and by God I have enjoyed them.  We may question from where McDonald's get their ground beef and how Kentucky look after their chickens but there's no denying, if you are hungry enough to eat a horse (a non-endangered source of meat available in all good UK supermarkets), they're both finger lickin' good and although there might have been outbreaks of obesity and flatulence, I haven't seen any mass outbreaks of botulism.

So, here we go. If you have a few scrawny chickens running around, this is what you do.. 

First catch them, kill them, pluck them and draw them. 

(I spared you those images.  Unlike Cro, I was pretty bloody useless when it came to drawing fowl.  My art teacher always said my efforts were indistinguishable from Lowry paintings.  At the time, in the early Seventies, I took it as the insult it was intended to be.  I'd like to meet the bastard now and at least get my paintings back.)

Then chop them up and chuck them into a pan with a bit of water and stick them on the boil,


I could not find the chicken lips while dissecting the chickens but saved the breasts and thighs
for later and for this exercise in providing sustenance, just ran with the feet and wings,
plonking them in a pan with a bit of water, banging the lid on and boiling them up a bit.
In the meantime I collected a few simple ingredients.
A few garlic cloves beaten to a pulp with a bit of rock salt.
Roughly chopped tomatoes
an onion
and a couple of plastic sacks of beaten and pounded to hell peanuts.
Chop the onions up (you can see I took my time over this). Add the
tomatoes and garlic paste and fry it all up in a pan.
I squeezed out the peanut paste into a small pan of boiling water
and kept stirring it until it looked like milky breakfast tea.

I added the onion tomato mix to the chicken
and then added the peanut juice

Served with rice, and maybe a side dish of really hot local peppers and a cooling  cucumber salad
made with natural yoghurt and finely chopped mint, this is delicious.
Etiquette Tip:  Provide guests with crisp, clean, starched linen napkins, finger bowls and, as the host, dive in first so as to lead by example.  This really is finger lickin' good!