Legend has it that the chicken that saved Western civilisation were found by the side of a road in Greece in the early fifth century B.C.It is not for their household gods, ancestor monuments, glory, liberty or the safety of their children that they fight, declared Themistocles, rallying his troops.Who lost, and why did the soldiers think it was uplifting rather than worthless and depressing? But history records that the Greeks, thus heartened, went on to repel the invaders, preserving the civilization that today honors those same creatures by breeding, frying and dipping them into one’s choice of sauce. Those roosters’ offspring would think their ancestors had a lot to answer for if they were capable of such deep reasoning.
Chicken Widely Available Food
Chicken is the most widely available food in our generation, and it crosses cultural boundaries with ease. Chicken, with its mild flavor and consistent texture, serves as an enticingly blank canvas for the flavor palettes of practically any cuisine due to its mild taste and uniform texture. Similarly, in the UK, a generation of youth believes chicken tikka masala is the national dish, and in China, it is Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Long beyond the days when most families had a few hens wandering around the yard that could be captured and turned into dinner, chicken continues to be a nostalgic and evocative food for most people in the United States. It wasn’t until later that author Jack Canfield came up with the phrase “Clam Chowder for the Soul,” which he thought was a clever metaphor for psychological comfort.
How did the chicken attain such cultural and gastronomic hegemony throughout history? Many archeologists believe that chickens were first domesticated not for eating but for cockfighting, which makes this finding all the more shocking. In the twentieth century, large-scale industrial production began to make a significant economic and nutritional impact.
Guns Germs And Steel
As Jared Diamond points out in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel, chickens are “small domestic mammals and domestic birds and insects” that have been useful to humanity throughout history, but, in contrast to the horse or the ox, have done little to alter the course of history (aside from legends). Despite this, over the centuries, the chick has inspired contributions to culture, art, gastronomy, science, and religious traditions worldwide. In several civilizations, chickens were and continue to be considered sacred animals.
The prodigious and ever-vigilant hen was revered throughout the world to symbolize nurturing and fertility. Eggs were hung in Egyptian temples to ensure a plentiful flow of the Nile. However, in the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, the rooster (also known as the cock) represented virility and a kind spirit who crowed at the crack of dawn to announce a turning point in the cosmic conflict between darkness and light.
For the Romans, the chicken’s most lethal attribute was fortune telling, which was especially effective during times of conflict. Chickens accompanied Roman legions, and their behavior was carefully watched before battle; a healthy hunger indicated a high likelihood of victory. According to Cicero’s writings, during a maritime battle in 249 B.C., one contingent of birds refused to eat before the combat, and an enraged consul flung them overboard. He was defeated, as recorded in historical documents.