The Killing of a Chicken

I was with my parents, walking on Spadina Avenue in downtown Toronto, south of College Street--where the Toronto Chinatown is today. I am talking about 40 years ago. It is the general area of what is still, I think, called Kensington Market.

Walking among open displays of animals, grains, anything and everything it seems in memory, we came upon crates--rectangular cages, really--of chickens piled up to at least my height. There was the noise of chickens cackling, and feathers flying.

This happened quite suddenly, for the market--as any market--was alive with noises, smells, sights, a joyful chaos. Out of the pleasant buzz, I was confronted by a man holding a struggling chicken by its legs. It made acrobatic swings in its doomed attempt to escape the inevitable. He took out a hacksaw, it seemed to me, and sliced a hole in the chicken's jugular. And the blood dripped out. The chicken struggled less and less. . .

I don't remember if I was horrified, or scared. As an adult, my mother told me that I watched it solemnly, and than asked her never to bring it up--ever. They never did.

The reason I am thinking of it today, I am preparing a casserole of chicken thighs, and one is red with blood, as they occasionally are.

I always thought this had something to do with making the slaughter of a chicken kosher; something to do with the blood being unclean, and having to be kept away from people.

This image comes to me sometimes.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.