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Why everything tastes like chicken
December 16, 2004 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Tastes Like Chicken : the field of culinary evolution faces one great dilemma: why do most cooked, exotic meats taste like cooked Gallus gallus?
posted by papercake (30 comments total)

 
Of course, this argument rests on the hearsay evidence that humans themselves have a "pork-like" flavor. I leave it as an exercise for interested readers to settle this point

There's nothing like scientific method for settling questions like this.
posted by OmieWise at 7:16 AM on December 16, 2004


I can remember visiting a friend of mine in Canada close to Christmas and gleefully anticipating dinner that night, as I told that quail was on the menu!

I was delighted! Quail were small, expensive, and supposedly hard to hunt. I figured all of this meant it had some sort of special flavor to it or something.

So, when I sat down to dinner that night, I was very disappointed. It tasted exactly like a very, very tiny chicken. Sob.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:19 AM on December 16, 2004


And, of course, this thread now faces one great dilemma: How long until someone breaks down and makes the obligatory Matrix joke?
posted by InnocentBystander at 7:23 AM on December 16, 2004


This is great; I have also wondered about this ever since the first time I tried rattlesnake and found it to taste much like a cross between fowl and fish, which is about where it fits in evolutionary terms. Also, the author notes that ostrich tastes like beef; so does emu, which probably is an example of convergent evolution since both are flightless birds that fit into the ecological niche of large herbivores, much like cattle and deer. And to think some people think AIR is not a serious journal

I will leave any "tastes like fish" jokes for someone else.
posted by TedW at 7:25 AM on December 16, 2004


That's where there was no Mr. Pibb, except really, everything was Mr. Pibb!

There was a story in the Granta "Food" issue that averred that people taste very gamy and salty, not porky at all.
posted by kenko at 7:25 AM on December 16, 2004


But cattle, deer, and (say) lamb don't taste similar.
posted by kenko at 7:26 AM on December 16, 2004


You'd think human flesh would be more readily available given the large number of amputations performed annually.
posted by zeoslap at 7:41 AM on December 16, 2004


I find that it is the preparation of said exotic foods that make it taste like chicken. Really, there are only so many ways you can prepare and cook bird meat. I have prepared, cooked, eaten pheasant, quail, and chicken at the same time using the same method (bake/fried). I have found that if you increase the salt and spice content of what you cook, you really mask the flavor. I think that pheasant and quail taste somewhat different from each other and both taste a bit more "gamey" than store chicken. The closest I can say is that pheasant and quail both taste a bit like free-range chicken dark meat. I find that free-range (i.e. out of doors and able to eat small insects) chicken has more flavor than what you buy in the store. So my guess is that "factory" bird meat must taste somewhat similar because of what they consume as food (factory pellets). Whereas, the free-range animals have a bit different taste as they will eat somewhat different foods in the "wild".
posted by Numenorian at 7:44 AM on December 16, 2004


I agree with Numenorian; when prepared properly, popcorn-style fried alligator tastes nothing like chicken. But with an overabundance of garlic and paprika, there'd be no way of telling the difference.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:52 AM on December 16, 2004


I have had a concept for making obscene amounts of money in the restaurant business floating around in my head for a while now.

Start an exotic game-only themed restaurant, and charge 30 bucks a plate for "alligator," "snake," "frog," "dolphin," whatever, and really just put good old chicken on the plate.

The diners can all feel really good about their intrepitude, and can sit around the dining room, remarking how it "tastes just like chicken" and be absolutely correct. Meanwhile, I'm getting my game for 0.29 per lb.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:52 AM on December 16, 2004


Kangaroo does not taste like chicken.
posted by shoepal at 8:17 AM on December 16, 2004


I realize this is all done in fun, but saying something tastes like "fish" glosses over an immense range of flavors. The taste of bluefin sashimi, for example, is pretty far from that of fried walleye.

For what it's worth, I thought that the whale I ate while in Iceland tasted somewhere between beef and salmon. Of course, I ate it raw, so YMMV.
posted by norm at 8:23 AM on December 16, 2004


And frogs do not taste like chicken. They taste like amphibians. Big surprise, eh?
posted by kozad at 9:04 AM on December 16, 2004


Rabbit doesn't taste like chicken, either. It's more like venison, but lighter.

Unless of course you bread it in 11 herbs and spices and deep-fry it. Then it tastes like KFR.
posted by me3dia at 9:04 AM on December 16, 2004


Hey, Devils Rancher, rent the movie The Freshman.
posted by cgc373 at 9:26 AM on December 16, 2004


Rabbit doesn't taste like chicken, either. It's more like venison, but lighter.

How were you preparing it? Broiled they taste rather too similar. Or I should say rabbit tastes like tasty chicken as opposed to the bland chicken from the supermarket. (Wait, rabbit tastes more like chicken than chicken? Huh?)

But cattle, deer, and (say) lamb don't taste similar.

I haven't had deer in so long I can't remember how it tastes. But yes, beef and lamb, prepared the same way with minimal or no seasoning, don't taste alike.

And canned salmon tastes nothing like canned jack mackeral, so there!
posted by davy at 9:32 AM on December 16, 2004


"Of course, this argument rests on the hearsay evidence that humans themselves have a "pork-like" flavor. I leave it as an exercise for interested readers to settle this point

There's nothing like scientific method for settling questions like this."


This guy can tell you, if you speak Spanish.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:36 AM on December 16, 2004


Maybe this "people taste like pork" idea comes more from the smell of burning flesh- a common smell on a battlefield- which I've heard is not unlike the smell of cooking pork. Since people are much more likely to end up on a battlefield than to eat other humans, few people have been able to report back about the actual taste. Instead, they know the smell, hear something about "long pig", and Q.E.D., humans taste like pork.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 10:21 AM on December 16, 2004


Yeah, if you burn yourself, the smell can be disturbingly appetizing.
posted by kenko at 10:33 AM on December 16, 2004


I always figured the "humans taste like pig" came from two things:

We are closer in genetic makeup to pigs, by FAR, than any other meat we commonly eat (unless you're into eating lemurs or chimps).

Second, while most animals we eat feed on grass or corn or whatnot, pigs eat scraps and are omnivores, as we are. Therefore, we should likely taste like pigs as we are closely related and have similar dietary preferences.
posted by u.n. owen at 10:56 AM on December 16, 2004


Supposedly the word for human flesh in some (cannibalistic) society translates to "long pig." Googling for "long pig" certainly gives a lot of results along this line.
posted by mikeh at 11:14 AM on December 16, 2004


InnocentBystander: what good is a Matrix joke on this thread, compared to a Meatrix joke?
posted by ramakrishna at 11:28 AM on December 16, 2004


Rabbit tastes like rabbit, frog tastes like frog, etc.
Saying "it tastes like chicken" about anything other than chicken just shows a lack of taste buds.
posted by signal at 11:45 AM on December 16, 2004


As a member of the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium, I have to say I loved this article, although I wish they would have coordinated with us a little better.
posted by grouse at 12:03 PM on December 16, 2004


What I'd like to know is why when somebody tries something new and says "Tastes like chicken!" everybody else laughs.

Except me. Because I don't know why that's funny. Why is it funny?
posted by Bonzai at 12:16 PM on December 16, 2004


Paging mr_crash_davis: Bonzai needs the Talk.

Bonzai: e-mail MCD or rent La Bamba. Otherwise, this will spiral out of control pretty quickly.
posted by melissa may at 12:49 PM on December 16, 2004


Ostrich does not taste like chicken.
posted by emelenjr at 1:40 PM on December 16, 2004


Bonzai: e-mail MCD or rent La Bamba. Otherwise, this will spiral out of control pretty quickly

I always thought that line ("smells like tuna, tastes like chicken") was just another instance of somebody telling that "joke".

Then again, I've never performed oral sex on a chicken so I guess I don't know for sure.
posted by Bonzai at 1:54 PM on December 16, 2004


From now all taxonomical and evolutionary charts should be prepared according to taste.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 5:13 PM on December 16, 2004


Neither beetles, ants, nor grasshoppers taste like chicken.
posted by syzygy at 7:46 PM on December 16, 2004


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