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NanciG
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« on: February 27, 2013, 09:04:19 AM »

I'm not entirely sure where to put this because it involves food and education.  This seems the most logical place. 

For an upcoming event it was suggested that we prepare a chicken.  As in the bird will be dispatched prior to the event, but we will need to pluck, clean and cook said bird in front of the public.  I am concerned about how this would go over with the public, which for this area will be a combination of farmers, hunters and at least half urbanites with no experience in this arena.  I have never done nor seen this process before either.  I don't want to cause trouble for the site nor offend the gentle guests.  I was wondering what experience you have had with interpreting this vein of food preparation in front of the public?  There will not be an entry gate as it's a more wander-in-from-the-parking-lot layout.  Did you prepare the public for what they may see?  How?  Did they like this level of interpretation?  Were they offended?  How did children react?

Thanks in advance for your input, I truly appreciate it.

Nanci Gasiel
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Sherry Key
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2013, 11:45:22 AM »

Nanci,

I'm afraid we take the easy way out.  We use a cleaned chicken and scatter chicken feathers about in one spot that we can point to without actually saying anything.  It usually suffices without offending modern sensibilities or children but gets the point across that it didn't come from the store. 

The chicken can still be cut-up and prepared in public without too much angst among spectators.

Hope that helps.
Sherry Key.
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Sherry Key
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lmkrausse
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2013, 11:56:13 AM »

A number of years ago, I would go to a quilt show in Williamsburg, VA and my husband would take our 2 boys to Colonial Williamsburg and they would do every tour, exhibit, etc. they could find.  The boys LOVED it and still to this day 15 years later talk about the fun they had.  Because they were boy scouts, they were able to help the woodworker shave new shingles.  And they (the shingles, not the boys  Smiley ) were put on the roof of one of the buildings.  They never forgot that.

Now to bring this ramble back on track  Smiley

One of the things they got to help with was plucking and gutting a chicken.  They were more perturbed about the fact the egg comes out the butt than they ever were about gutting the chicken.  They found the whole thing fascinating.  They can still tell me how to gut a chicken without messing it up.  Now my husband and I have never sugar coated where our food comes from, so they know that chicken nuggets are the same as those cute birds running around the yard. 

Some children, and adults, may not be able to handle that idea.  But they also have the option of not watching if they don't want to.  I think it's important for people to see how things are done. 

Since you will be starting with an already killed bird, I think the most traumatic part is over.  My local farmer's fair always used to do a live butchering of a hog from kill to scrapple.  I don't like to witness the killing part, so I would just avoid that and show up after the butchering had started.  They used to do this every year until animal rights people made them stop.  I am in favor of animal rights and against animal cruelty, but I think people need to be able to see how it used to be done and to understand the economics of farming, etc.  Some animals are raised to be food.  Just my 2 cents worth

Getting down off my sopbox and packing it up for another day

Margaret
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shawnra
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2013, 12:41:22 PM »

As the site I volunteered with has its own chickens we have done this alot with an audience mostly from Southern California and it is generally well recieved.
 The bird is usually killed without an audience but we may leave the axe in the stump. We prepare the rest openly. Once some little girls were intially freaked out but they stayed around all day and were invited to taste the chicken and dumplings that we had made and they declared it "the best they tasted!" and seemed to forget the poor dead chicken.
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kellydorman
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2013, 08:00:07 PM »

It's been my experience with demonstrating food prep that you will have people that are fascinated and people that are disgusted - there doesn't seem to be any middle ground. More than once, I've been totally taken off guard by the response of the public in regards to food, for instance the lady who was convinced we were trying to poison her son by simply telling him about our dandelion green salad - not offering it to him, just giving details about what I was preparing.

Most people are very interested, after all, we all have to eat, making the topic very universal and something that the public usually feels comfortable discussing.

Regards,
Kelly
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Marta Vincent
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 07:32:58 AM »

The easiest way to pluck a chicken is to dunk it into a bucket of boiling water and then pull the wet feathers out.  It's messy and it smells pretty awful (like wet feathers on a dead bird Tongue), but it sure beats trying to pluck it dry.  After plucking, singe off the pin feathers over an open fire.

Cleaning requires sticking your hand inside & pulling out the guts.  Once they are out - in one blob - separate out the crop.  Be careful not to break the crop or it will spoil the gizzard.  Then you can get the rest of the giblets. 

Have fun with it!   Can you tell I've cleaned a few birds in my day....
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Mary Gutzke
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 11:01:32 AM »

Ooooh Marta, WHY did I happen to read your post while eating my lunch?? At least it wasn't anything chicken. Shocked Grin
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Mary Gutzke
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 01:12:11 PM »

The easiest way to pluck a chicken is to dunk it into a bucket of boiling water and then pull the wet feathers out.  It's messy and it smells pretty awful (like wet feathers on a dead bird Tongue), but it sure beats trying to pluck it dry.  After plucking, singe off the pin feathers over an open fire.

Cleaning requires sticking your hand inside & pulling out the guts.  Once they are out - in one blob - separate out the crop.  Be careful not to break the crop or it will spoil the gizzard.  Then you can get the rest of the giblets. 

Have fun with it!   Can you tell I've cleaned a few birds in my day....

I used to pluck chickens, too. That's how we did it, Mrs. Vincent.

I think you'll be fine plucking the chicken in public, Ms. Nanci. I know I always thought it was interesting, though I didn't like doing it. If you start the intro out like you're from the eighteen hundreds, I think it will sit well with people. You could start it by saying something like, "Back in our time, people butchered and prepared their own meat. We have a chicken already butchered that we're going to pluck. If you want to watch, go ahead and stay around. If you don't want to-" then point them in the direction of another exhibit. I know I'd like that!  Smiley By the way, if it's going to be a mix of hunters and farmers, they'll pro'lly be fine with it. Just watch the suburbans!  Cheesy

Just my $0.02!  Cheesy I hope you can figure out a way!

Ruth
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Robin C
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2013, 11:50:11 AM »

If you dunk the chicken before plucking, make sure the water isn't to hot or to cool.  First chicken I wanted to pluck myself--I put it into to hot of water--and the feathers did not want to come out. Learning curve---
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Miss Lucy Martel
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« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2013, 12:51:04 PM »

Well, I have absolutely no experience with plucking a chicken, but I might have some insight from the squeamish guest.
My entire family is vegetarian - no meat, no fish, no poultry.

If we all went to an event (unlikely, because I am the only one who reenacts) where they they were fixing something that still looked like a recognizable live animal, this is what our reactions would be:

- my mother would go very white, and maybe faint. Possibly would not eat anything for the rest of the day.
- one of my sisters would make a face, and use this experience as a reason to never to go to a reenacting event again.
- on the other hand, watching someone clean and cook a chicken might be the only thing interesting to my other sister!
- My dad would probably get into a discussion about cooking techniques with who ever was doing the presentation (he might not eat them, but he loves to cook poultry for other people Smiley )
- I would not be grossed out, but I might not stick around for long, unless the presenter was really interesting!

Personally, I don't see why people should be upset about watching someone fix food they would have no problem eating!
However, if you are worried about offending people, the idea about having a pile of feathers somewhere sounds good, with maybe only a few feathers still on the bird. That way the fact that there used to be feathers covering the chicken would be made clear, but would not be as disturbing for the delicate sensibilities of the city folk Smiley

Hope my ramblings help some!

Sincerely yours,
 Lucy M.
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