Saturday, 9 June 2012


I know that I am asking for trouble and tempting fate when I upload this posting! I have been very fortunate with my health in Ghana. I can only recall 3 significant bouts of anything nasty involving my stomach, one of those was leaving the country at Christmas and none resulted from chicken. For obvious reasons I cannot include photos with this one either.

At least twice a week I call into the Cold Store to buy chicken and fish. The Cold Store is a freezer in a lock-up.  Inside lie boxes and loose pieces of chicken and fish at various stages of being frozen, depending on the electricity situation and whether “lights out” has been a long session. Sometimes stocks run low and we are down to the bowels of the freezer to find a few pieces to make soup or stew. I can’t imagine the freezer ever being emptied and cleaned. The woman who runs it, now knows me well and anticipates my order. She usually reaches in and pulls out a chunk of chicken pieces all frozen together and yanks a couple of pieces off it before throwing them into a weighting scales pan, which also shows no evidence of ever being washed. When I remember to ask her to “chop it” she reaches for a filthy chopping block and a very sharp cleaver from the floor. From above her head she brings the cleaver down onto the chicken expertly and cuts it like butter as pieces shoot off the board in all directions. Finally, they are gathered and put into the obligatory black plastic bag and handed to me for the princely sum of £2 per kilo! It is very nice chicken.

Today, was a more challenging task as there had clearly been a delivery, the stock was more frozen than usual and the freezer almost full. I held the lid as she struggled with a sealed box inside, finally cutting the strapping with a razor blade. Eventually she heaved out the entire contents of this box as one frozen chicken mass. I expected to see the cleaver at this point, but no, she threw the chopping block onto the floor and hurled the frozen mass onto the edge of it to dislodge some smaller pieces. It worked, of course, and by shuffling between different sized chunks retrieved from the floor we arrived at the desired weight on the scales.

All the time I am watching this I picture myself standing in the butchers at home. Everything is white or crystal clear glass. The meat is cut with a variety of precision tools by experts who have qualifications in selecting and surgically dissecting the required cuts of each specific beast or fowl. The used tools are sterilised between customers. My purchase never touches a surface without a sheet of film beneath it and is clinically triple wrapped before it is presented to me for the princely sum of a king’s ransom!!

It’s amazing we all survive, isn’t it!

1 comment:

  1. Hi

    funny what we get used to and take for granted, I would be unsure about the bits from the floor, but as you say we survive.......certainly different from Frys the butchers in East Grinstead xxxx