There is something so oddly satisfying about preparing really simple, really old fashioned food. My fingers are still smelling of garlic cloves (and my cuts are still stinging from them...ow) after stuffing them underneath the skin of a chicken that's currently roasting whole surrounding by fresh, local, organic baby red potatoes and carrots. In highschool, or a year ago even, I wouldn't dream of preparing a whole chicken, and if my mom insisted that I rearrange the thawing chicken in the microwave or trim the breasts for a marinade, I'd hold the thing out at arms-length while prodding at it vainly with a paring knife. I'm happy to say that these days my irrational fear of raw meats and cooking in general has pretty much dissipated. This is something I'm wildly thankful for, my growing interest and adeptness at making food-real food- considering how a few years ago I had accepted defeat from the culinary world and pledged to live off quesadillas and noodles for the rest of my life. I had decided that maybe one day in the faraway future I might become comfortable enough with cooking that I could purchase a neatly wrapped package of boneless, skinless, organless chicken (as long as it didn't resemble anything living, dear god) and maybe put it on a grill. Nowadays I'm still learning, but I'm infinitely more at ease in the kitchen and am getting to be pretty competent with cooking without books, just my senses. I even considered volunteering to help a friend butcher a rooster, until I realized that two pairs of hands was good, and my third pair would probably just get damaged in the inevitable frenzy. But I'm not scared of the notion of killing animals for food anymore. I think it's better to be comfortable acknolwedging the animal's existence before eating it rather than pretending it never had one at all. It helps that even on my meager college-student food budget I can still afford free-range organic meats...if I eat them few and far between.
It surprises me that many people are happy gobbling down any old grocery store chicken or fast food chicken burger but are repulsed by the idea of killing and butchering their own food. Understandably, parts of America aren't exactly a hands-on food culture, but I think the whole "circle of life" approach is much more humbling and even, after awhile, reassuring compared to never knowing your food in the first place. While my chicken, which I just rebasted, is filling the house with wonderful garlic-rosemary-chickeny smells, I'm dreaming of a time in my future when I can have a few very happy animals roaming freely on some land...and every so often I will eat one of them. Ha! Divine.