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
This image comes to me sometimes.