Some months ago, my friend Melanie decided to raise ducks. As in, for food. Little chickies came by mail, and their peeping turned to quacking, and we enjoyed cookies made with duck eggs and other delicacies. The Little Man visited the ducks a few times, and one day memorably asked their names. Melanie answered that the ducks did not have names, because they are food. Her husband joked, however, that they were named “Christmas, Thanksgiving, My Birthday…”
The Little Man wasn’t sure what he thought of this. He is generally against killing animals, although not so much that he doesn’t eat meat. He said he wanted to name them, but Mel warned him against doing so. He contemplated the issue, wondering whether he would be able to eat these ducks. He was undecided.
Fast forward to autumn, and slaughter time. I let the Little Man know that some of the ducks were going to be killed, and that we would be eating duck instead of turkey for the holiday. He said, “Which duck is it?” I reminded him it didn’t have a name, and he said, “Oh, I remember. It’s named ‘Thanksgiving!’ I’m going to try some.” He smiled before adding, “but first I’m going to hug it.” Still, I think a brave step for a sensitive kid. I’m really glad he’s going to be able to connect to his food in this way.
The duck was delicious. Simply prepared with potatoes from Melanie’s garden, stuffed with bread and apples and herbs, and roasted. Melanie picked the apples with Hidden Harvest, a local initiative that makes the most of food-producing plants in the city. A neat trick: after stuffing, cap the bird with the end of the loaf of bread to seal in the moisture. It worked great. Thanks were definitely given.