During my pre-teen days, I used to accompany my late Granny on her bi-monthly trips from Butterworth to a small town called Padang Serai in Kedah, to visit her eldest daughter. We would wait at the bus stop nearby for the red-and-yellow liveried Central Province Wellesley bus to take us on the 90-minute journey.
On each visit, Granny would pack at least one chicken (sometimes a duck as well) from her own hand-raised “broods” in our backyard, for my Big Aunty and her family.
Usually, the chicken was quite cooperative (legs tied, no doubt), but the ducky fellow could be quite an embarrassing nuisance with its non-stop quacking all the way. Well, in those days, no one in the bus complained or made a hoo-hah. It was an accepted way of life. (In these days of smartphones, the saga would have gone viral).
While tidying up my store room, I uncovered this 2-decade old kitchen appliance that we have not used for a long long time. It has become a monumental testimony of my wife’s happy hours in many episodes of culinary Broiler-vs-Broiler drama in the kitchen.
The machine is a table-top broiler, which we used to broil chicken (aka ‘broilers’) for dinner. It is a pretty amazing piece of machine, though quite simple in concept.
Those were the days. However, now, as age catches up with us, we find it too tedious to do the broiling, and troublesome to clear up the oily aftermath. Moreover, as the Empty Nest syndrome sets in, the incentive to get embroiled with cooking diminishes rapidly.
If we want roast chicken, simple — just head to the supermarket, grab one from over the counter and start biting.
Decades ago, it was a tradition among the Chinese to engage in fowl play as part of the wedding ceremony for a newly-married couple.
After the formalities were done at the groom’s place, the wedding party would go to the bride’s home for the rituals at the maternal side. Accompanying their return to their matrimonial home would be a rooster and a hen, which would then be released under the newly-weds’ nuptial bed. If the rooster emerged first, that “augured” the first-born child would be a son, if the hen came out first, then a daughter.
In Chinese these are called 带路鸡 (or ‘chua lor kay’ in Penang Hokkien)
These days I believe most couples would chicken out at the prospect of having two live specimens foul up their love nest; don’t worry there are lots of mock ones available.
When I was a kid, we used to buy fertilized eggs from a dealer, took them home and then incubated them in a home-made incubator and waited for the chicks to hatch. Slowly, one, two…and then three,..and soon we had a small brood of cute fluffy ones running around.
Now and then, we got some chicks which had a bare zone around the neck. Completely botak. We called them “Japanese chicks”, but to this day I don’t know why they had this feature, nor why they were so named! Could it be due to some Exhibitionistic traits in their DNA, traceable to ancient Japan?
I think the chance of getting one was less than 1:20, so whenever one showed up in the new batch, the siblings would often fight for the right to “own” it.