On chickens,

Jackson Landers on Slate sets out to determine “when life began tasting like chicken?” which plays on the idea that rarely-eaten meats are often described as tasting like chicken. The answer is 350 million years ago, according to Landers because fish decidedly don’t taste like chicken, but alligators do, and alligators first appeared about 250 million years ago, and… Well, the first fish to come ashore was 350 million years ago… So… Anyway, here’s why fish DON’T taste like chicken:

Several barriers prevent fish from tasting like chicken. A chemical called trimethylamine, which develops after a fish dies and creates that distinctly fishy flavor and odor, is a big one. Texture also plays a role: Fishes’ muscle structure is different from chickens’. Fish muscles are typically arranged in bands along the sides of the body and are separated by relatively less connective tissue than what is found in the muscle of their evolutionary descendants. These bands of muscle are what make cooked fish flaky. Fish muscles are relatively simple because all they have to do to move through water is perform a sort of sideways flopping motion. The muscles of land-dwellers like chickens, lizards, and frogs are more specialized and are designed for the more varied movement of individual limbs.

Also, Slate writers are the best at making their friends look like idiots.

I posed a question for a group of friends on Facebook, asking them whether they thought Cornish game hens taste like chicken. Some of the respondents were adamant that the little birds have their own flavor and texture that hardly resembles chicken. What I didn’t mention when I asked the question was the fact that Cornish game hens are simply ordinary chickens slaughtered at a younger age. Our idea of what chicken tastes like seems to be as informed by our expectations as by our palate.

And here’s Smithsonian Mag going long on the history of chickens. I love their food writing.

The domesticated chicken has a genealogy as complicated as the Tudors, stretching back 7,000 to 10,000 years and involving, according to recent research, at least two wild progenitors and possibly more than one event of initial domestication. The earliest fossil bones identified as possibly belonging to chickens appear in sites from northeastern China dating to around 5400 B.C., but the birds’ wild ancestors never lived in those cold, dry plains. So if they really are chicken bones, they must have come from somewhere else, most likely Southeast Asia. The chicken’s wild progenitor is the red junglefowl, Gallus gallus, according to a theory advanced by Charles Darwin and recently confirmed by DNA analysis. The bird’s resemblance to modern chickens is manifest in the male’s red wattles and comb, the spur he uses to fight and his cock-a-doodle-doo mating call. The dun-colored females brood eggs and cluck just like barnyard chickens. In its habitat, which stretches from northeastern India to the Philippines, G. gallus browses on the forest floor for insects, seeds and fruit, and flies up to nest in the trees at night. That’s about as much flying as it can manage, a trait that had obvious appeal to humans seeking to capture and raise it. This would later help endear the chicken to Africans, whose native guinea fowls had an annoying habit of flying off into the forest when the spirit moved them.

On chickens,

Recipe for a Chick-Fil-A sandwich at home

Kenji Alt at Seriouseats does the research so you can enjoy the crispy goodness.

Chick-Fil-A’s got quite a bit in common with California burger chain In-N-Out burger. Both serve reasonably priced tasty food of a markedly better quality than your typical fast food establishment. Both harbor a cult-like following of zealots. Both hire and retain extremely upbeat and friendly staff—you can’t help but feel just a little more gay after stepping into a Chick-Fil-A. And of course, both restaurants were started by families with extremely conservative Christian principles.

The difference is that while In-N-Out limits its proselytizing to inconspicuous bible verses referenced on the bottom of its cups, the higher-ups at Chick-Fil-A are a little more outspoken in their stance, actively speaking against equal marriage rights for homosexuals and donating millions of Chick-Fil-A dollars to organizations with strong anti-gay, anti-feminist, and anti-abortion histories.

Recipe for a Chick-Fil-A sandwich at home

On Prinicple, I Will Not Make A “Have It Your Way” Pun

Yet another reason to avoid fast-food restaurants, particularly Burger King:

In 2005, Florida tomato pickers gained their first significant pay raise since the late 1970s when Taco Bell ended a consumer boycott by agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound for its tomatoes, with the extra cent going directly to the farm workers. Last April, McDonald’s agreed to a similar arrangement, increasing the wages of its tomato pickers to about 77 cents per bucket. But Burger King, whose headquarters are in Florida, has adamantly refused to pay the extra penny — and its refusal has encouraged tomato growers to cancel the deals already struck with Taco Bell and McDonald’s.

This month the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, representing 90 percent of the state’s growers, announced that it will not allow any of its members to collect the extra penny for farm workers. Reggie Brown, the executive vice president of the group, described the surcharge for poor migrants as “pretty much near un-American.”

Now the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange has threatened a fine of $100,000 for any grower who accepts an extra penny per pound for migrant wages. The organization claims that such a surcharge would violate “federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and racketeering.” It has not explained how that extra penny would break those laws; nor has it explained why other surcharges routinely imposed by the growers (for things like higher fuel costs) are perfectly legal.

What’s ironic is that while Burger King refuses to take a stand in support of farm workers, it been relatively vocal on better treatment for chickens and pigs. Until they change their mind, Burger King is off my list, as are Florida tomatoes.

On Prinicple, I Will Not Make A “Have It Your Way” Pun