It had been a while. A long while, actually. And… if the bird would like to cover its ears… I was really fancying roast chicken. I don’t usually cook much for me, you see. I have cooked at my son’s house pretty much every day for the past decade or so anyway, so coming home to roast a chicken for one doesn’t really cut it.
The dog, of course, would disagree. In her eyes, I am not roasting a chicken ‘just for me’… it is mainly for her, but I might get leftovers. And, on the odd occasion that she has been ill, that has happened. This time it is me who is unwell and I fancied roast chicken.
So, I duly bought and roasted, smelling the enticing aroma as it filled the kitchen. Simply cooked with a little olive oil, seasoning and herbs… nothing fancy. A few potatoes and some carrots… my appetite is not what it should be, so why overface it? Even though the thought of making a nice , fluffy, Yorkshire pudding was tempting. It isn’t as if I am on a diet or anything. On the contrary… having eaten everything I have fancied and still lost fourteen pounds this week, I can not only afford to indulge, I am almost duty-bound to do so.
With apologies and profound gratitude to the bird on my plate, I have to say it looked wonderful. Smelled wonderful… and tasted like the contents of a chemical waste plant. About the same as pretty much everything else I have tried to eat this week. I was devastated. I had just so fancied a bit of chicken…
I expect it is the pills. I’m told it will get worse if I start chemotherapy. Maybe I should have made a curry.
But there was nothing wrong with the chicken… except, I’ll admit, from the chicken’s personal perspective, with which I can currently empathise. The expectation caused the disappointment. Yet why, after a week of such disappointments, should I have expected anything else?
Hope they say springs eternal… possibly, though, not from a roast chicken breast… but in more general terms at least. Maybe that is the problem? That while there is the possibility for things to go in a different direction from the one we expect, we always lean towards the more hopeful sde, rather than accepting that actually, we might not get the change we would prefer?
But maybe it is exactly those limitations that we need in order to truly appreciate what we have? Did I, whilst volubly bemoaning the morphine-tainted chicken, once think to be grateful I was here and able to moan that the fowl tasted foul? That I was not only here to eat the stuff, but well enough to have bought it and cooked it myself too? And still had the breath, and the luxury of choice, with which to complain about the taste?
Even in the relatively wealthy Western society in which I live, there is poverty. There have been times in my life when any food at all would have been good… so to rail against how a bird tastes to me, when the dog and my friend both thoroughly enjoyed it, seems churlish… and yet the reasoning for that was all too easily forgotten.
It is only ever expectations that disappoint. And they are our own, painted on consciousness by hope and habit, perhaps, but constructed nonetheless out of the chimaera of a future yet to come into existence.
There is nothing wrong with hope… nothing at all. It is the carrot that draws us forward to attempt the impossible and without it, the world and our lives would be a very much poorer and bleaker place. But there is always another side to the blade… and we have to remember that the potential for disappointment goes hand in hand with the expectations raised by hope.
Even so, I really hope the chicken works better cold in a sandwich…