… and my eggs are uneven! What are those white fuzzy things on that large egg with the speckles? Oh, chicken feathers. Yes, the eggs came from real, live chickens. The cilantro came out of the earth. These are the small things that remind us of how life really works.
Like many of us expats, I lived most of my life in a city, or suburbia. I shopped at Safeway where the eggs in the carton had better be perfect, by golly. Some even have stamps on them with red letters telling you how perfect they are. I just learned that in some parts of the world, all eggs must be stamped with a code to determine the type of hen it came from; free range, cage, or barn, followed by numbers to tell you when it was laid and what the “drop dead” date is. I doubt you would drop dead from eating an egg that is over the ‘use by’ date, but I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell you to take the risk.
I’ve grown accustomed to buying cilantro with dirt still clinging to the roots. I’m happy when I see a few fuzzy feathers clinging to my mismatched eggs. Shopping at the Atenas Farmer’s Market on Fridays gives me a good feeling as I stroll through the makeshift wooden tables of goods arranged in a less-than-perfect display.
It takes me back to Delancey Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan when Grandma Gussie would take me shopping on Saturday mornings. The poultry market was a gathering spot for Yiddish-speaking women sitting on wooden benches. They sat with feet planted, chicken feet firmly grasped, chatting raucously while plucking feathers from their freshly decapitated birds. I sat quietly next to Grandma watching the feathers swirl around the floor every time the door opened.
I can still hear Grandma as we made the rounds: “Is it fresh?” When the dirt on my cilantro is still moist, I would say, “Yes!” it’s fresh.