INDONESIA – CHICKEN

Beijing, 25 February 2014

Within five minutes of moving into our hotel cabin, we had our first visitor: a chicken.
chicken becassine 003
Naively, I thought the chicken was a friendly thing and wanted company. I decided to call her Bécassine. For those readers who may not know her, Bécassine is the heroine of an old French comic strip. She is what Parisians of the early 1900s would have considered the typically foolish girl from the remote French provinces.
Becassine-2
The name fits my chicken well; it’s gross racial typing, of course, but I’ve always thought that chickens are rather foolish birds.

In any event, I was soon disabused of the comforting thought that Bécassine was searching out my company. The way she set her beady eye on anything I was putting in my mouth made me realize that she was just there for the food scraps. I suspect that previous guests staying at the cabin had spoiled Bécassine by feeding her yummy things like bread crumbs. She rushed at the mandarin pips I threw to her but spat them out immediately, fixing me reprovingly with that beady eye of hers.

Apart from these character issues, Bécassine was really a very handsome chicken. One thing I particularly admired about her were her long, graceful legs. Really quite model-like, I felt. And her plumage, though modest compared to some other chickens we saw in the surrounding villages:

kampong chicken 001

chickens on walk 003
(this one reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady)
audrey hepburn
her plumage, as I say, was sleek and smooth. A very far cry indeed from the battery chickens which we have been reduced to breeding in the richer countries
battery chicken
so that we can have dirt-cheap eggs and dirt-cheap chicken meat and eventually all look like this.
obese couple
In fact, Bécassine is a free-range chicken, what they call here a kampong, or village, chicken. And indeed every village we walked through had dozens of kampong chickens, many of the hens with a brood of chicks in tow, ranging through the village and into the fields beyond. With their long legs and rich plumage, they really were very handsome. I do believe that they are not very distant genetically from their wild progenitor, the Red Junglefowl, whose range extends from northern India through South-East Asia and into southern China.
red junglefowl-1
Indeed, the domestication of the chicken took place somewhere around here about 5,000 years ago.

Being free range, Bécassine will no doubt be very good to eat. We didn’t eat her, but in Yogyakarta we had lunch at a restaurant which served typical Indonesian food. One of these was Ayam Goreng Kremes, a fried kampong chicken with fried, flaked salam leaves.

ayam goreng kremes

Fingurr-lickin’ good, as the Colonel would say!

Sorry, Bécassine, it’s been good to know you, but you have to follow your destiny. Someone, some day, will have the great pleasure of eating you.

________________________

Becassine hen: our picture
Becassine: http://madameshackelford.wikispaces.com/file/view/blppxije.jpg/35302825/blppxije.jpg [in http://madameshackelford.wikispaces.com/Bécassine%5D
kampong chickens: our pictures
Audrey Hepburn: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/12/05/article-0-0F1123D000000578-117_634x792.jpg [in http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2070449/Marilyn-Monroe-Kate-Middleton-The-unforgettable-dresses-time.html%5D
Battery chicken: http://lifewiththeexbatts.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/audrey-1.jpg [in http://lifewiththeexbatts.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/hello-world/%5D
Obese people: http://www.themobilityresource.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/morbidly_obese_091026_main.jpg [in http://www.themobilityresource.com/disabesity-should-morbidly-obese-people-be-considered-disabled/%5D
Red junglefowl: http://www.discoverlife.org/IM/I_TS/0006/320/Gallus_gallus,_red_jungle_fowl,I_TS604.jpg [in http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Gallus+gallus%5D
Ayam Goreng Kremes: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-76_gBdFsH_8/UCS8hAh77bI/AAAAAAAAAHA/eZYM1EQnGh0/s1600/resep-ayam-kremes.jpg [in http://foodiefod.blogspot.com/2012/08/tips-membuat-ayam-goreng-kremes.html%5D

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Abellio

I like writing, but I’ve spent most of my life writing about things that don’t particularly interest me. Finally, as I neared the age of 60, I decided to change that. I wanted to write about things that interested me. What really interests me is beauty. So I’ve focused this blog on beautiful things. I could be writing about a formally beautiful object in a museum. But it could also be something sitting quietly on a shelf. Or it could be just a fleeting view that's caught my eye, or a momentary splash of colour-on-colour at the turn of the road. Or it could be a piece of music I've just heard. Or a piece of poetry. Or food. And I’m sure I’ve missed things. But I’ll also write about interesting things that I hear or read about. Isn't there a beauty about things pleasing to the mind? I started just writing, but my wife quickly persuaded me to include photos. I tried it and I liked it. So my posts are now a mix of words and pictures, most of which I find on the internet. What else about me? When I first started this blog, my wife and I lived in Beijing where I was head of the regional office of the UN Agency I worked for. So at the beginning I wrote a lot about things Chinese. Then we moved to Bangkok, where again I headed up my Agency's regional office. So for a period I wrote about Thailand and South-East Asia more generally. But we had lived in Austria for many years before moving to China, and anyway we both come from Europe my wife is Italian while I'm half English, half French - so I often write about things European. Now I'm retired and we've moved back to Europe, so I suppose I will be writing a lot more about the Old Continent, interspersed with posts we have gone to visit. What else? We have two grown children, who had already left the nest when we moved to China, but they still figure from time to time in my posts. I’ll let my readers figure out more about me from reading what I've written. As these readers will discover, I really like trees. So I chose a tree - an apple tree, painted by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt - as my gravatar. And I chose Abellio as my name because he is the Celtic God of the apple tree. I hope you enjoy my posts. http://ipaintingsforsale.com/UploadPic/Gustav Klimt/big/Apple Tree I.jpg

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