I’m back in the United States, coming down with something – a cold, a flu, something that makes me tired and wanting to sleep a lot. I have the urge for homemade chicken soup. I find myself in the poultry section at the grocery store. A whole chicken seems like the right ingredient.


I’m back in my kitchen. And I remember the choice I made during my first year out of college, working as a public school teacher in North Carolina for $12,000/year. I lived paycheck to paycheck, with very little money for extras. And yet, for some reason, I decided that I would only buy pre-cut, de-boned chicken. I didn’t want to deal with carcasses. My mother had tried to teach me how to work with a whole chicken and I just wasn’t interested.

And now I wish I had listened to her. The recipe calls for a whole chicken to be cut into eight pieces. I struggle, I pull, I hack and that chicken is not budging. It is as determined to stay whole as I am determined to butcher it. I pull out my Joy of Cooking cookbook, hoping the illustrated step by step instructions would offer assistance. No luck.

And now I have another choice to make. Because I want to know how to de-bone a chicken. Either fly my mom out to San Francisco for a week to belatedly teach me what I wouldn’t listen to years ago. Or enroll in cooking classes.


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