My battle against the chicken nugget
As a vegetarian I’m perhaps more sensitive to the type of meat that my children eat. I have no problem with them eating a nice piece of meat per se, but I do get a little squeamish when it comes to meat “products.”
And by that I mean hot dogs, and fast-food products such as burgers and chicken nuggets.
Long ago, I taught DD the difference between chicken “yuckits” – the type of nugget sold in fast-food restaurants – and chicken “yummits” – the sort made from fresh chicken fillets. For a while, I had some success when telling her, “No, those are yuckits. I’d love to buy you chicken nuggets, but let’s wait till we can go somewhere that has good ones.”
But peer pressure, Happy Meal toys and a chemical chicken-like flavouring are strong opponents and DD slowly started to win the battle of the yuckit.
So I upped my game. Online, I found a description of what chicken nuggets are made from. We talked about how whole chicken carcasses, including the eyes, bones, guts and feet, are smashed through a sieve to make the mechanically separated meat or “poultry paste” that becomes a chicken nugget. And about how it’s crawling with bacteria, so is washed in ammonia (that’s the chemical I dye my hair with, darling”) and flavoured and coloured with chemicals.
Her culinary squeamishness is legendary: I showed her that Jamie Oliver video – and waited for her to be horrified. Then I started making my own deliciously tender, organic chicken nuggets, rolled in paprika and polenta, at home. She loved them. Often, I win the battle.
But, occasionally, and very rarely to be honest, I lose the battle and let her have some fast-food yuckits. Yesterday was once such day.
“I know this is the bones, eyes and guts of the chicken,” said DD as she ripped apart a chicken nugget like a modern-day tyrannosaurus rex, pupils dilating with pleasure. “And I know it’s full of chemicals. But it’s just so delicious.”