Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Where Is My Chicken Man?

The Chicken Man's shop was just up my street and over about two doors on Calle Clavel. A tiny tienda. Along one wall was a case with glass above the counter but it is doubtful that refrigeration ever cooled it. Along the wall to the side was a small freezer case and inbetween was a tiny round cutting block maybe 24 inches across. There was just enough room for the Chicken Man to move to the freezer or to squeeze out from behind his work station. Everyday he started the day with a clean apron, his shiny hair combed back and his sleeves rolled up. The Man was a master with the cleaver. He could chop a chicken apartido in a few seconds or he could slice the pechuga away from the bone in two quick moves. If you wanted the breast aplanado or flattened, he slipped it between plastic wrap and in a couple of quick hits with his pounder it was flat and if you didn't stop him, he would hit it again and again until it was so paper thin you could read through it.

In his shop he also sold some vegetables and fruits. Unless you came on the day they arrived, they were usually past their prime but I sometimes bought some oranges or serranos or maybe a melon. The shop smelled of melons, bananas, onions, fresh chickens and pine-o-pine and clorox. The ladies from the neighborhood shopped there. I liked shopping there. The chicken was fresh and I felt a part of my neighborhood.

The chicken man had grown to understand my very bad Spanish and gestures so I could get my chicken whole, or cut into pieces, or boneless chicken breasts or flattened chicken breast....but not too flat. And he knew I always wanted the bones from the chicken carcass for soup. He knew me, I knew him. We had a business relationship.

What happened to my Chicken Man? He was here when we left in May but he isn't here now. I miss him. I really don't want to find another chicken man. I want my old Chicken Man back.


Claudine said...

I know how you feel! I buy chicken from one location only though there are chicken vendors all over.

Anonymous said...

Don't you wish you had photographed him?


BillieS said...

I did photograph in his shop. I have one of him that isn't too bad and I started to go look for it back on the external HD's but decided I'd just do a word picture.