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Thursday, 11 June 2015 05:47

Life is but a (chicken) beach

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There are some sights, so horrific, they ink themselves like murals on the insides of our eyelids.


Warning: Parental Discretion Advised.
It was the summer of 1994, August, a few weeks after Chefhusband and I had married.
And, with a rare, mutual, day off from the pancake house, we decided to fetch a bucket of fried chicken and head to the beach with our best friends, Julie and Dave.
Everything was perfect. A 30-something degree day, not a cloud, sparkling water. Plus, chicken so greasy-good that we have a rule about only ordering it once a decade (hello 2020!).
But (and there is a, quite literally, a butt) it only takes one unfortunate decision to turn a pleasantly forgettable picnic into a comedy of horrors.
Deciding to bypass the tourist traps, where bodies were crammed onto the sand like hot dogs on a spit, we took a meandering road to a little strip of beach we’d discovered months earlier, on a spring-time hike, when sunbathers there were not.
Barely noticeable from the road, said beach was at the bottom of a goat-track, hidden behind a bluff; a seeming haven for locals-in-the-know, who’d rather not have sand kicked in their sandwiches.
Frankly, an afternoon at one of the usual beachfront meat markets would’ve been preferable.
As it was, we’d just staked our buckets and shovels on a patch of beach blanket real estate on the near end of the sand. And, striking out in a dingy for a view of the shore, we unbucketed our Kentucky Fried.
 That is when it all went sideways. For that is when we looked to the left.
It turns out that the first half of the beach was pretty straightforward.
Sunbathers in swimwear, the more modest in sarongs. Families, even.
 Fine. Good. Except that, beyond some invisible border, one that was not a bit marked or patrolled, the first half of the beach turned into the second half. And that, well, is where the city’s fleshy exhibitionists gathered to, ahem, let their rubber chickens hang loose.
  But (and there were many more butts) upon fleeing the scene, and not before being greeted nonchalantly by two people we knew, and now do not, we found there was no way to turn around an SUV unless we a) drove into the lake, or b) drove to the very end of Nude Row and turned around.
Needless to say, appetites were lost by all. And, ever since, whenever we think of going to the beach, we’re tempted to just fill a picnic basket with chicken salad sandwiches and stay home.
 

Waldorf Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese
4 cups cubed roasted or poached chicken breast
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 cups halved seedless red grapes
2 tbs finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
3 tbs tarragon vinegar
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
In a large bowl, toss together chicken breast cubes, chopped walnuts, celery, grapes, tarragon leaves and blue cheese. In a separate, smaller, bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, tarragon vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss salad together with dressing, adjust seasoning, and serve.

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