Do you remember the chicken farmer? Not me. The real one, Fabienne Gagagaga, upon whose farm on the west coast of France I landed serendipitously a year-and-a-half ago when I was ejected from Germany?
Remember? I didn't even know she was a chicken farmer until she picked me up at the train station in a pickup truck, with shit on her shoes and hay in her hair, and fed me homekilt lamb and the world's best butter until I had regained enough strength to help her clean some coops and cook a cherry-beer- chicken-heart stew with so many hearts in it that I half-expected to still see it this time — a year-and-a-half-later — on the stove where it stayed, for days, while we dipped in every dinnertime.
Remember how I accidentally left the farm and fell into the hands of hippies from Pleiades, who anointed me with essential oils and tried to make suicide pacts with me? Well, ever since then I have been trying, in one way or another, to get back to the farm. I've been home, I've been happy, I've been scared, I've even been in love again, but still I have wanted to come back to this place, in a less depressed state of mind this time, and help Fabienne take care of her chickens. Voila.
After dark tonight, in about 10 minutes, we are going to "take care" of about a hundred of them. She has 102. Two are for eggs.
At 10 o'clock, she and I, her boyfriend Fred, and her dad — hold on. It's 10 o'clock . . .
It's noon, the next day. That's three in the morning to you, and even though I've been here for a couple weeks already, being a chicken farmer — getting my chicken farmer back on, so to speak — it's still confusing inside my body.
Her chickens are free-range, happy farm chickens, and she raises them (except the two) for meat. I stood outside in the rain last night, opening and closing plastic cages and counting to seven, over and over again, in French, while the others raided the coop and stuffed the cages. The happy part of 7 x 14 little free range lives was over.
Those plastic cages went onto a little trailer, and we went to bed so we could get up at four in the morning to take them to a sort of a finishing school. When they come back they will be finished. And that's when the happiness begins for Fabienne's customers.
Many of whom don't want the hearts and livers. So this is also where the happiness begins for me. But I'm ahead of myself by even more than nine hours now.
Where was I, from a Cheap Eats standpoint? Oh yeah. Staying at the Edwardian Hotel for one night, and walking past Rebel Bar on our way to sushi. There was a sandwich board on the sidewalk that said "Sneaky's BBQ" with an arrow pointing across the street to Martuni's.
What the? — we both wondered, but did not stop to investigate because, although Hedgehog loves barbecue every bit as much as I do, we had our stomachs set on sushi.
After which we walked on the Martuni's side of Market Street, but I didn't even need to open the door to know they were not barbecuing — not even sneakily — in there. So we crossed the road.
Because I'm supposed to know about these things. We decided to have barbecue for dessert. There's a thin line between rebellion and dyslexia, turns out. Of course that's where Sneaky's is.
We ordered a couple of PBRs and a mess o' chicken wings, smoked, with the spicy habanero-jalapeno sauce. The bandanna'd dude at the table next to us turned out to be the cook. How sneaky of him. He jumped up when he heard spicy, all excited, and took over for our waitressperson, talking us into some kind of crazy spicy on-the-side sauce too, then disappearing into the kitchen.
The wings were good. Plenty spicy even without all the craziness. I can't wait to come home now, to pork bellies, brisket, and pulled pork. Meanwhile, I'll see you in my dreams, Sneaky.