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Fresh Chicken Feet

To join the chicken feet nostalgia, I remember my mother bringing home each week's chicken from the butcher, putting newspaper in the sink and proceeding to eviscerate it, burn the pin feathers and salt and soak it.

When we went to the Catskills for the summer, she picked out the live chickens and we boarded them overnight awaiting the shochet. She performed all the ablutions on the feet and, as an only child, I was supposed to have the honor of eating them and also the unhatched eggs that sometimes were found inside the hen. I ate the eggs but never the feet.

For many years, after I was married, I had a chicken man, who came each Wednesday to deliver the chicken and eggs for the week. He sometimes added a few extra feet because he liked my kids and my dog. To this day, I am in wonderment that I actually performed the same ritual as my mother had before me and was convinced that this was the only way to get good chicken soup.

When it became illegal to sell them, I thought the soup would never taste the same, but it did and does, perhaps even better. I have wondered for years why the sight of those ugly feet didn't cause more people to become vegetarians.

Posted by Francine Weistrop