A chicken by any other name

The events of my early morning runs, 8-hour Spanish classes, and overall shenanigans taught me a valuable lesson this week– and it all started with an observation:

When I go jogging at 7 am, I noticed that all manner of farm animals are in their early morning routines: horses, chickens, rabbits… and roosters, who are all-too happy to loose their battle cry and wake up every student at our university dorm.

Madrid morning

Madrid morning

But does everyone hear the same obnoxious sound–which makes me want to introduce these barnyard alarm clocks to the Colonel’s secret recipe– in the same way that I do?

Interestingly, the answer is no:

rooster crows the same in Spain, the US, Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark, but we– meaning myself and my fellow scholarship-winning cooks– all hear the noise differently.

This point became obvious in class while discussing Spanish words for various animals and their culinarily-related parts. Our instructor, unable to translate into four different languages, resorted to grade-school tactics: that is, grunting like a pig, neying like a horse, and crowing like a rooster to convey his message. And what did his crow sound like?  Not the “cock-a-doodle doo” I learned as a child, but something much different:



That’s not the crow I learned in kindergarten, nor is it the crow of Peter Pan— and it definitely isn’t what the roosters I know sound like!  

OK, so I’m not exactly Old McDonald. I was raised in the ghettos of Foster City, California, and the only roosters I ever saw as a child were on Looney Tunes (I say, I say that’s not what a rooster sounds like, son!). But still, what’s going on here?

Don Juan Philipe de los Pantelones con Queso from Germany and Kid Choco from Switzerland agree that roosters say “Ki-kerie-ki!” The Danish version, El Rosacón informs us, goes “coo-corie-coo!” P-Diddy and I agree on the “cock-a-doodle-doo!” from our childhood, pronounced with a proper southern twang.

Now what we have here is a failure to communicate.

Or rather, as I later reflected, what we have here is a metaphor for the experience of this scholarship.

Take, for example, the time we spent this week cooking lunch together:

We all agreed to give our chef, Juan, a few days off by cooking for him, the staff, and ourselves on two separate days: El Rosacón and I cooked on Wednesday, and P-Diddy, Kid Choco, and Don Juan-Phillipe de los Pantalones con Queso cooked on Friday.

What ensued was an amalgamation of styles, techniques, and flavors from our collectve experiences:

Wednesday’s menu:

Watermelon salad w/ lavender-pickled rind, goat cheese, & pistachios

Watermelon salad a la Jose Andres

Watermelon salad a la Jose Andres

(El Rosacón)
Monkfish a la plancha w/ anchovies, risotto, & summer vegetables

Friday’s menu:

(Don Joan de los Pantalones con Queso)

3 sopas frías:
Cucumber w/ pulpo pinotxo
Vichyssoise w/calamari crostini
Melon w/ jamon pinotxo

3 sopas frias

3 sopas frias

Carnitas (fried in Iberico fat!!) w/ salsa fresca & traditional garnishes

Carnitas fried in iberico fat--someone kiss this guy

Carnitas fried in iberico fat--someone kiss this guy

(Kid Choco)
Peach torrijas w/ cinnamon & peach mermalada

Each of us prepared a dish utilizing skills we learned in our past. What happened while we prepared our separate dishes, however, was more than just cooking. Our underlying appreciation and passion for our craft became a unifying factor– despite our different culinary viewpoints, experiences, and capabilities.

Or, to put it in rooster-crow terms: We all hear the crow (i.e. have a collective love for cooking). We  each just say “¡Qui-querie-qui!” a little differently.

That, to me, sums up one of the greatest opportunities being presented here: aside from the chance of cooking with some of the greatest chefs in the world, we each learn from our culinary peers, exchange ideas, share passions, and become “greater than the sum of our parts” through experiences as individuals and as a group.

Every day, I am finding new ways to appreciate this incredible opportunity… now please pass the drumsticks, as Foghorn Leghorn tastes good and its dinnertime.


4 Responses to “A chicken by any other name”

  1. Jeff sounds happy and is going click click.

  2. 1) This is proof positive I read your bloody blog.
    2) I agree with El Rosacon about the rooster noise (I know what you’re thinking… don’t.)
    3) You crack me up. Have a great week.

  3. When you come to Israel, you will hear that roosters go “kookooreekoo,” dogs go “hav hav,” birds go “tseef tseef,” and falafel is way better than bacon cheeseburgers for lunch 🙂

    Great blog. Great stories. Great pictures.

    Keep ’em coming 🙂

  4. I love your blog!! I’m so jealous, it sounds like you are lovin’ life, hangin’ with some awesome peeps and makin’ some exquisite food. Keep up the posts! You’ve got a great book started! 🙂

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