Sunday, October 5, 2008

Chicken Soup

I was running a couple of quarts low for about 2 weeks, and grew weary and frustrated with my ill health. My present “housemate”, Grace, a C.P.A. from D.C. (and woman of great faith, culinary abilities, and homeschooled “all the way through”), determined that “chicken soup” is just what the doctor ordered.

So yesterday we bought two fresh chickens,….very fresh, indeed very alive chickens. (Most people do not have refrigeration, so the modus operandi is “you kill it, cook it, and eat it,... with no time wasted”.) It was pretty cool having a couple of chickens in the yard,… that is until 6 am this morning when it was unmistakably established that one was a rooster. I was already up when Grace emerged (staggered) from her room at 6:30 am and mumbled: ”The rooster dies!”, and then went back to her room. Indeed, as we knew and intended, there was work to be done.

First step, catch the chicken. Damascene, the gardner, wins. (Hey, somebody has to be the photographer, and that would be me.)

Second step, separate the chicken from its soul (even though I am quite certain that chickens do not have souls, but that is not the present concern of this blog).

Third step, pour boiling water over the now undeniably soulless (and headless) pre-dawn noisemaker.

And fourth, get to plucking.


We are getting there. This boy is lean and sinewy (translation: “tough”,... no, not me, the chicken!), as are ALL chickens in Rwanda.


And then what is curiously termed “dressing the chicken”, which is, in fact, quite the opposite,… separating the chicken from its most unmentionable personal parts.

Did I mention the good things that shall join our guest of honor?

Put it all together. Let it simmer for 3 hours. Whip up some dumplings.

And I am fully recovered by the time I finish the first of my 2 ½ bowls. Indeed, just what the doctor ordered: Chicken soup, another great adventure, AND the prayers that I had requested of my devoted prayer supporters (sated in reverse order of importance).

Postscript: Careful readers will recall that I said TWO chickens. Indeed, the second chicken was granted a temporary (very temporary) reprieve. But after I wrote of the above "prescription", the ungrateful reprieved one got into the house,... and could not be found ANYWHERE. In fact, there were "disagreements" as to whether it was actually in the house. Ulitmately, it was discovered cowering in the back of Joe Ritchie's closet. (Joe Ritchie is an extraordinarily successful US businessman, who is a close friend and advisor of President Kagame, and who is also a guest in the house - Joe, that is, not the President. The President has a little place up the street.)