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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NO - chicken -VEMBER

Today is our last day in a month without eating chicken for the Hobby household. It has been relatively easy. Yesterday was the only day I've missed chicken, and that was because one of the employee's in my office brought in chicken strips, and they were very fragrant, and smelled of deliciously freshly fried chicken. Breaded chicken strips, the unnatural creation or the processed food world, can be pretty satisfying on a cold and dreary day.

But besides that one time, I haven't really missed the chicken. I didn't miss it when we went out to eat for Mexican food, my veggie burrito was just as delicious as a chicken one would've been. I didn't miss it when my Mother-in-law ordered Chinese food, and different chicken dishes filled the table - the vegetable lo mein was the best lo mein I've ever eaten. And I'm pretty sure she only ordered it because we asked her. I didn't miss it when it was challenging me to cook new meats, like pork loin, that I had always been scared to try to cook in the past.

But most importantly, I want to make clear that I could've missed it, as it was a regular part of our diet. I just found other ways to not miss the chicken. My husband and I have eaten a lot of chicken in the past, for several reasons. A big reason is that I haven't eaten beef for almost 10 years. Also, we live in the Midwest - fresh fish is expensive, and difficult to come by. Early in our relationship we had a terrible experience with a cheap frozen salmon fillet that still haunts my taste buds today. We were eating a lot of shrimp - but after the oil spill in the gulf - I've been more leery of shrimp. So chicken was our default protein. When it comes to food though, I don't think we should really default to anything, and that was a big part of what our no-chicken-vember was all about.

It would be unfair to say "it all started" as if I knew when exactly I started to mindlessly order dishes with chicken in them. I'm sure it was before I stopped eating beef, and only became stronger after that. For my husband, I guess it was when he started to want to share meals with me - and so he would plan on chicken. But the clarifying moment was on Oct. 30, at our favorite up-scale fast food place, Crazy Bowls and Wraps. We were eating our favorite wrap, the Caesar Chicken Wrap. It is simple enough to make at home, and sometimes I do - but the point of fast food is that they had the foresight to cook the rice before you thought about eating lunch. As we sat outside, enjoying unseasonably warm weather, I started picking pieces of chicken out and throwing them back in my bowl. This isn't unusual for me, I've been a "meat picker" my whole life. As a child I ate just the bites of meat that my parents made me eat. As an adult, I always feel that if someone else has made my meal, that it has a higher ratio of meat in it than I would prefer. A friend once asked my husband as they were grilling, "How many chicken breasts will Monica eat?" Mr. Hobby sputtered out a laugh " About half of one breast." We've laughed about that in the years since. Eating two chicken breasts in one sitting? Your meat portion should be the size of your fist, and if I'm eating meat, that's the maximum I'm eating. So there I was, reducing the amount of chicken in my wrap and putting it in my bowl and I said to Mr. Hobby "Do you want my chicken?" When he said "No" I was taken a bit by surprise. When I looked over at his bowl and saw he was also reducing the amount of chicken in his wrap, I was downright shocked. "Chicken just doesn't taste good to me anymore" he said. So we decided, starting Nov. 1, no chicken for a month. If it hadn't been Thanksgiving month, we might've gone for no poultry for the month.

I think we're both happy with our decision, and I'm sure we could continue the challenge if we wanted to, but we're happy with the result. And if I find we're both defaulting to chicken again, well, we might have to make it No chicken January, but that just doesn't have as nice of a ring.

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