Today I finished another great book about food history, so I will share a few thought that wandered through my mind as I read the book.
The history of the chicken starts with the Red Jungle Fowl (Gallus gallus). I took this picture at the Taronaga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. This bird is the ancestor of all modern chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus). See: Chickens: Ancient and Modern
The book details the history of how the chicken spread around the world. It also talks about how studying chickens in different areas of the world can also track civilization and how groups of people have migrated from place to place.
The book also looks at the science behind the chicken industry and current trends in production and distribution.
Almost 30 years ago I did some work at a chicken processing plant in Oklahoma. At the time it had all the latest innovations, but many things have changed since then.
Chickens are raised almost everywhere in the world today. However, they are not the same everywhere as chickens have adapted to local conditions and needs. In the US most chickens are raised on big chicken farms, but there are movements to raise chickens in better conditions. The standard chicken breeds today also do not have much flavor and there are some growers raising heritage breeds or new breeds with more flavor.
Eggs are also important when you look at the history of the chicken. Eggs are not only for food, but have other uses as well. Most eggs are brown and white, but we had some chickens when I was growing up that laid eggs that I remember as being a bluish green.
I could share a lot of pictures of chicken dishes, but the one that I am missing the most is a good chicken plate from Nando’s. The proliferation of fast food chicken chains around the world has led to the standardization of chicken production in many countries.
There are a lot more things I could talk about from this book but I will close with some of the great chapter titles in this book:
Nature’s Mr. Potato Head
Thrilla in Manilla
Sweater Girls of the Barnyard
Can you guess which chapter is about cock fighting?
If you like food history I would definitely recommend this book.
One final question: Why did the chicken cross the road?