Thursday, October 27, 2005

Chickens: Going to the Dogs?

They may be soon, or so implied the Evening Standard sandwich boards today, heralding in bold typeface the 50% drop in poultry sales here induced by the avian flu panic. Apparently, demand has dropped so low that at 25 pence per pound, chickens are actually "cheaper than beef tripe used for dog food." Appetizing thought, considering that a) I was on my way to the store to purchase ingredients for chicken stir-fry, and b) until this very moment, chicken was my UK dietary mainstay since I still hadn't fully recovered from our last experience living here when mad cow disease was rampant.

Up until now, I'd been able to (sort of) keep a lid on my anxieties over the dreaded avian flu pandemic speculated to hit Britain this winter (largely by stockpiling the drug Tamiflu), but today's ES headline put the kabosh on any hope I had of remaining rational thru March, and of course necessitated that I rush straight into the newsagent and plunk down my 40p for the paper, barely able to contain myself until I got home to indulge in the doomsday fears I've been trying so hard to keep at bay.

Many of you will recall my post this summer about the hazards of the ubiquitous Evening Standard sandwich boards for the panic prone (which resulted in our accidental purchase of an enormous air conditioner during the New York heat wave, despite the fact that we were living in London at the time). I'm unhappy to report that, despite being once-bitten, twice-shy by their sensationalist sales techniques, they still continue to cause me repeated bouts of HIPS (Headline Induced Panic Syndrome).

Playing right into the hands of the evil publishers of this paper, HIPS usually prompts those such as myself to buy this apocalyptic rag to read the trumpeted article (rather than leaving things to the imagination and hence winding up more anxiety-ridden and in extreme cases, burdened with unnecessary appliances), but the articles never exactly prove to provide the soothing balm that you're looking for. As expected, the chicken article was no exception and played right into my fears when I learned that I should not, if I had any sense at all, be eating chicken for the remainder of the flu season, or perhaps even through 2007 if I want to take into account the progeny of any potentially infected birds. (And I do.)

The article noted that one of London's Michelin-starred French restaurants has even gone so far as to take all bird dishes--including (gasp) foie gras--off the menu. Another top restaurant interviewed has seen a slump in pasta sales because homemade pasta apparently is made from raw egg yolks. Pretty soon, there'll be nothing safe left to eat in this country. I'm sure if we're here long enough, something is bound to happen with the local fish supplies...after all, in a country beset by Mad Cows and Flu-ridden Fowl, surely Cholera Cod is just around the corner. It's enough to make even the most carnivorous among us join the ranks of Gwyneth and Madonna by going macrobiotic.
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