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Sick Chicken on a Persian Carpet (Soaker Pad)

■ 18 August 2013 by James Martin

chicken package, soaker pad

It’s a month before we return to our tremor-ravaged little love nest in Northern Tuscany. That means yummy pork products will be mine for a couple of months.

It also means the return to the sanity of buying things from a real butcher instead of peering past the plastic window fixed tenaciously to a styrofoam plate and wondering what noxious odors will emerge when you slice through it with a boning knife.

I got to thinking about chicken when we went to our local “super” market. We wanted to roast up a big American treat the other day. Chicken wings. You eat them with a sporting event. They should be spicy as the dickens so you are encouraged to drink lots of beer.

The mouth makes water, doesn’t it?

All we could get (and our meat section is twice as large as our whole supermarket in Italy), were packages of five chicken wings each. That’s right, if you wanted six you were out of luck. You could buy a thousand and three packages of 5 chicken wings each if you wanted. In America it is all about scale. And sameness.

So we paid 4 American greenbacks for 5 chicken wings. 23 ounces it said on the package. Highway robbery.

I sliced through the plastic window with trepidation (and a knife). Yes, the smell was there. Nothing like a little rot before the kickoff. Don’t worry, it’s normal. In America.

But then we found that the silly little wings were sitting on a thick pad, thicker than we’d ever seen before. I mean, it seemed like the Persian Carpet of what I later found out were called “soaker pads” by some and “diapers” from others. That’s because they’re made about the same.

The soaker pads have gotten larger, thicker. You need them, we are told, because as the chicken “rests” the muscles contract and the juices get squeezed out of the thing. In other words, it’s going bad and you need to soak up the secretions. You don’t want them pooling up in the virgin Styrofoam, so the USDA and FDA allow you to put these little diapers down.

Soon the diapers will be thicker than War and Peace. That’s a book, for you whippersnappers who likely won’t see on in your lifetime. Profit will be theirs, sayeth the big crap chicken industry.

I weighed our soaker pad. 2.8 ounces. Out of the 23 ounces we were paying for, that’s a big chunk.

Anyway, I read all about soaker pads. I am now full of facts and slightly nauseated. Did you know that many chemicals can be put in soaker pads?

For example, you can put citric acid and sorbic acid together in 2 to one ratio and put it in your pad. It reduces “the microbial load of purge trapped inside soaker pads.”

Who uses “purge” as a noun?

Anyway, meat is evidently getting so expensive and the middle class so darned tapped out that evidently they are stealing meat to get by. “What?!” I hear you ask? How do you know that?

Yes, they are soaker pads spiked with RFID chips. Microwavable. Incredible.

And, of course, this is America, so there will be opposition. Yes, your chicken breast company can get a no soaker pad seal. I mean, think of it: “the top 9 companies used 6 billion soaker pads a year” and they don’t break down in the landfill.

So now you know why I’m absolutely giddy to get back to a place where soaker pads aren’t that much of an issue. They’re not an issue in America, actually, because we don’t give a damn, but still.

Oh, and because chickens are the source of so many illnesses in America we’ve decided to lay off all the inspectors and let the industrial crap chicken industry police themselves. And because they wanna speed up production and expect lots of problems with it, they’re going to soak the chickens in chlorine! Now you can spend all day in the pool and smell like a chicken! You can sign a petition against such zany antics if you want.

That’s a picture of our favorite 1/2 inch thick Persian Carpet of a soaker pad in the picture above. Don’t let it nauseate you. We have politicians and the USDA for that.

Sick Chicken on a Persian Carpet (Soaker Pad) originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com Aug 18, 2013, © James Martin.

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