Smithsonian article traces the 10,000-year-old domestication of these descendants of the dinosaurs by their upstart rivals, the mammals. Modern chickens probably sprang from a northeast Indian red junglefowl, but there may have been a yellow-skinned gray-feathered relative from southern India in the woodpile as well. By 2,000 B.C., chickens had spread to Mesopotamia. Homer does not mention them, but chickens became quite popular with the later Greeks and Romans, who appreciated the handiness of an animal whose slaughter produced just enough meat for a moderate household for a day. Polynesian seafarers may have introduced them to South America in pre-Columbian times. Today, Americans alone eat nine billion chickens a year, while KFC has opened more than 3,000 outlets in mainland China in just the last 25 years.
From Santeria to Jewish mothers to General Tso, this article is encyclopedic. And now I'm inspired to enjoy some of my husband's superb fried chicken, left over from last night, for Sunday dinner. Tomorrow, I hit the road for Philadelphia, there to attend my niece's wedding.