The Unexpected Tale of Chicken

Why did the chicken cross the world? Maybe the question should be... what the heck is a chicken in the first place? 

 Photo by  Kyle Murphy

Photo by Kyle Murphy

Chicken is the most ubiquitous protein of our era. It is a blank canvas for the flavors of almost any cuisine. Ancient Babylonian cave paintings show cooked chickens, medieval courts served chicken fricassee, and yet most of us know nothing of this bird's origins.

The chicken began in the brush of jungles in Southeast Asia, as the red junglefowl. There are a few other closely related species which likely contributed genes, such as the grey junglefowl. And today, after thousands of years of domestication, these birds outnumber humans 3 to 1, at least.

Through time, these birds have come to represent archetypal facets of our own experience. For example, in the ancient Persian faith of Zoroastrianism, the rooster crowed at dawn to call out a turning point in the daily cosmic struggle between darkness and light.

Discover your food! Even the chicken has a fascinating story to tell.

Smithsonian published a great article on this—click here to read more.