ASK ME! chicken feet

• I have three words for you: Chicken feet. Why? – Kate, Shanghai

Well, now that’s an interesting question. Did you know the United States is the world’s largest chicken foot supplier? Until the bird flu scare interrupted exports and imports, the US shipped a steady supply of 8 billion chicken feet to China each year. JESUS! That’s a lot of chicken feet. When China imposed a temporary ban in February 2004, all those feet were tossed into a grinder and fed to the dogs. At least, that’s what sources say.

Some people say that eating chicken feet in powdered form helps heal spinal cord injuries and/or strengthen the tendons since chicken feet have the curious ability to regenerate. (On another note, the Japanese hope their experiments with manipulating the size and location of chicken toes will help scientists develop a way to make human fingers regenerate.)

The proper term, by the way, is “chicken hocks,” which are enjoyed in many parts of the world. They’re steamed, boiled, curried and even plunked into soup. Here in Southeast Asia, they’re drinkin’ food! My only experience with chicken feet was at a karaoke restaurant across the river from Phnom Penh. We went there with our good Cambodian photographer friend, Sinith, who proceeded to get us rip-roarin’ drunk on cheap beer and boiled chicken feet. They were rubbery on the outside and crunchy on the inside. They made me feel nauseous. And nauseated, all at the same time. But I’ll forgive Sinith. He serenaded us with “Unchained Melody,” in such a kooky sweet voice that it made me forget all about the rubbery chicken feet. (Sinith also can perfectly imitate a rooster’s crow.)

5 thoughts on “ASK ME! chicken feet

  1. Ms. Spoon, that’s fascinating. Really. I wonder if the price of those little Ambrosian Delights has increased with the mass foot grinding (not to be confused with food binding, of course)?

    Speaking of bird flu, the chicken men still pass my house every evening on bikes with side cages filled with live birds….which is supposed to be illegal. I’m thinking the bird flu is alive and kicking in these parts!

    k

  2. They actually made bicycling with live birds illegal in China? I’m impressed. Here in Thailand, men still sleep with their prize-winning fighting cocks, and they’re proud of it!

    -Karen

  3. Where can I buy chicken feet fresh or frozen?

    Is there a low in USA that chicken feet are not sold in meat or supermarkets?

    Are they all exported?

    What are they ground into? Gelatin?

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