I was sitting in my office the other day when I overheard part of a conversation in the office next door. It went something like this: "You have to know how to cut up a whole chicken ... 'cause sometime you're gonna have a whole chicken."
And ... that got me to thinking. Just how many things are there in this old world that we need to know how to do because "sometime" we're going to need to know how to do them?
Take, for example, the aforementioned chicken situation.
Of course you need to know how to cut up a whole chicken, supposedly so you can cook it. But in today's society, many are used to buying our chicken already cooked (baked, fried, or roasted on the rotisserie). When purchased in the "already cooked" form, the choices seem endless. You can buy chicken breasts, thighs, legs or wings. You can also buy parts you will never find if you cut the chicken into pieces yourself; things like chicken nuggets, popcorn chicken and chicken strips.
And if we buy it uncooked, we usually buy it by specific chicken body parts that have been flash-frozen and thrown into a three pound bag. Bags of chicken thighs; bags of chicken breasts; bags of chicken wings; bags of chicken legs; and packages of leg-thigh combinations (also called "quarters").
You may also purchase "fresh-cut" chicken in the store. These not-yet-frozen pieces have been cut-up by the butcher and shrink-wrapped "to preserve freshness." Again, you will find breasts, thighs, legs, wings, and leg-quarters. You may also be able to track down a whole chicken if you look hard enough. However, regrettably, you still will not find any popcorn chicken, nuggets, or strips. You may find the entrails wrapped up in wax paper stuffed up inside the cavity of the bird, but you won't find any nuggets -- I guarantee it.
And you won't find any wishbones.
When I was a kid mom and grandma and every woman I knew used to cut-up the chickens we ate. And there were always two breast pieces and a wishbone, thus allowing for three pieces of white meat instead of the two pieces of white meat we have grown accustomed to today.
I don't know about you, but I miss wishbones. If more cooks knew how to cut up a whole chicken, we might just have more wishbones on the chicken plate.
Is that too much to ask?
PS -- Thanks to all the Home-Economics teachers out there who have ever taught your students how to cut up a whole chicken. You know who you are. I just hope you told them about the wishbone.