I had chicken feet for the first time in the Philippines in 1997. There, the little footsies are poked on a skewer and grilled over a fire. You can dip them in “barbecue” sauce, which was something like 3/4 cane vinegar, 1/4 soy sauce, and hot chilies in there for good measure. So you get your chicken foot, dip it in the sauce, and gnaw away. There’s not much there, really.
Last week, I was boiling up a pot of chicken broth, with the chicken backs and feet that I’d procured at the farmer’s market. I had let it boil for about 2 hours and went in to check its progress. My 5 year old daughter followed me, in her attempt to assist, and begged to know what was in the pot. I explained about the broth, and offered her a chicken foot. She squeaked, “OK.” She’s pretty intrepid about trying new things, but she didn’t get the jesting in my voice, so I decided to roll with it. I told her to go get a plate. She did.
When she came back, she held the plate up as I plucked the foot out of the steaming pot. By this time, it had practically dissolved and was barely holding together. My funny girl was daunted by the squishy sight, but she still bravely took it to the table. The skin was falling off, and the little claws were peeled back. Seriously, it looked disgusting. She sat down and got ready, but didn’t know how to proceed. I told her to just pick it up and chew.
In the end, I let her off the hook. She would have done it, but it just didn’t seem fair to keep it going when I wouldn’t eat the slimy thing myself. I think she was relieved, but it didn’t stop her from enjoying a mug of hot broth.