25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
All The Work to Eat One Chicken
If you thought that preparing for your corn tortillas was a lot of work, wait until you see all that had to be done just to eat one chicken. Today if you want to eat a delicious chicken all you have to do is go to Chico's meat shop and in one hour's time you are eating your barbecue. Or if you will, you go to any of the restaurants like Master Lee and in ten minutes you are eating your fried chicken.
Twenty Five years ago the first thing you had to do to eat a chicken was to grow your own chickens in your backyard. This took anything from four to six months. When the day arrived for you to prepare your dish, you first had to run all around the yard trying to catch the chicken. Sometimes the chicken would have full wings and it could fly so the effort to catch it was greater. Some of the folks either cut the feathers off the tip of the wings so it could not fly or tied a small weight like a stone or bottle unto its feet so it could not run nor fly away. Aha! Bravo! You have finally caught your chicken. Now it was time to grab it firmly by the head and you had to swing the animal several times until its neck broke. When the neck broke, you released it and it jumped about the yard for half a minute or so.
Now it was time to clean the chicken. If there was a small fire on the fire hearth you held its feet there for a few seconds so you could remove the skin and the toenails. Toenails or are they claws? Next you had to boil a pot full of water over the fire hearth. This took about half an hour. When the water was hot, you poured it over the entire chicken to soften the feathers. Now you proceeded to pluck off the feathers very easily. Brave! Now your red or black chicken was totally peeled and white. If you wanted to get it smoother and cleaner you passed a piece of pummel stone over the chicken. Then it was time to clean the inside. You cut its belly with a knife and took out all the guts and stuff and threw that away. There you have it, all these preparations is to get the animal clean and now it was time to proceed with the actual preparation of the dish which could be another hour or so depending on the menu you had in mind.
No wonder people did not eat chicken too often 25 years ago! With all that work, it was easier to eat fish which was readily available, just waiting to jump into the frying pan.