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Monday, March 28, 2005

 

Quack! Quack! Whack!

We enjoyed the traditional duck for Easter dinner. It was extremely fresh.

I didn't think through the logistics very well. I went to visit the poultry guy at our local bazaar on Saturday morning to inquire about his duck supply. I told him I wanted a big, fat duck. Ducks aren't in big demand here so he didn't have any on hand, but he told me that I should come back Sunday morning. I was pleased with the outcome of this negotiation, particularly since it was conducted all in Azeri.

I don't know why I thought that when I came back Sunday morning the duck would be all nicely wrapped and ready for me to take home.

Really, after this long, I should know better.

There was a duck waiting for me alright -- a nice khaki colored one, sitting in a cage on top of the hens.

QUACK, QUACK, WHACK!

This is a one-stop butchery, so the owner's wife, in a headscarf, had the water boiling, ready for quick defeathering. Within five minutes, she handed my duck over to me, neck and innards stuffed inside, with a big gold smile. The owner told me to come back for anything else I needed.

I told him I needed a chicken, too, since that duck was pretty small and not at all fat. Lucky for me, there were some hens available that were not as fresh as my duck but didn't require my involvement in their execution.

Memo to self: Ducks in Azerbaijan run around and swim and behave like normal ducks, so they are tough and sinewy, with no actual meat on their bones. Despite The Producer's skill in the kitchen and it being Easter, he is not the messiah and could not feed a small crowd with one skinny duck and a small roasted hen.

We stuffed them, Azeri style, with walnuts, onions and raisins and served them on couscous. While the duck was nearly meatless, the hen was absolutely delicious.
Despite (or, perhaps, because of) plenty of wine, the coarser elements at the table could not resist gnawing on the carcasses.

Our Azeri friend brought a wonderful apple pie, with a homemade crust and Granny Smith apples from Washington.

Her biggest logistical problem was finding shortening.

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