Today I went down to Providence, Rhode Island to visit Tony’s Colonial Food for a review I put up on A Beautiful Bite. After enjoying the most delectable lunch of authentic homemade mushroom ravioli and the best broccoli rabe I’ve had in a long time, my friend/tour guide Maria took me on a walk to show me some of the lesser known sights of Federal Hill.
Maria is Portuguese. And as many of you know, my Mom lives in Terceira, Portugal. Maria is a fine cook and we spent a good long time talking about quirky foods that are served in other countries that Americans would find odd. Blood soup came up during the conversation. “Where the heck would you find blood to use in blood soup?” I asked Maria. “Come on.” she said. “I’ll show you.”
Maria took me to a shop just a short walk from Tony’s. It was a poultry shop where you can find all kinds of birds such as geese, pigeons and different varieties of chicken.
The first thing I saw when we walked in was this parrot in a cage by the door. Ok, I’m not a bird person. So, if this isn’t a parrot, have some grace. I have no idea what kind of bird it is. It looks like a happy one to me. Regardless, we’ll get back to the happy bird shortly.
Maria pointed out a plastic curtain at the back of the shop. “Go check it out” she said. And I did. Through the curtain I went and what I saw on the other side totally took me by surprise. Live birds everywhere. So, the way it works is that you go in and pick the bird you want butchered. Very old school. Very fresh. I thought I was going to pass out.
No, I was certain I was going to pass out. Feathers flying. Butchers butchering. Pigeons squawking.
I’m all for farm to table, but this was a little more than I was prepared for.
As I was leaving the shop, I couldn’t help but wonder about the parrot. Was he the luckiest bird in the shop or the most unfortunate? A tough one to call. And pretty ironic that a poultry shop would keep a pet bird.
I’m sure the poultry is fresh and delicious. But it shows you how insulated we are from our food’s origins. I mean, many of us are used to seeing our chicken sort of neat in its packaging at the grocery store. It has to start like this somewhere, doesn’t it?
What a crazy day.