Jewish World Review March 13, 2003 / 9 Adar II, 5763

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

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Consumer Reports


Worldwide schmaltz shortage looms --- all because of a featherless chicken


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It's always something! Two years ago it was the mad-gefilte fish disease. and last year the great matzoh shortage. As if Israel doesn't have enough tsuris (problems) now there emerges the coming worldwide schmaltz shortage just as Purim, Passover and other great holidays approach.

For those who have not yet savored schmaltz it is made from frying chicken fat with other, to be named later, delicacies. Connoisseurs save the darker fat, skin cracklings and onions for making chopped liver. In Europe rendered chicken fat is prized as a spread for bread. It also can be used in potato pancakes to enhance the flavor.

BACKGROUND

In May 2002 an Israeli geneticist developed a cost-effective, featherless chicken.. Avigdor Cahaner, of the Hebrew University, maintained that these chickens would grow faster in hot weather because they will not be prone to over-heating like normal chickens, whose growth rate drops when they get too warm.

While some reveled in the discovery, other people had a very different opinion of this latest deception of nature. Dr. Ian Duncan, Chairperson of Animal Welfare in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and the foremost domestic fowl expert in North America, has stated that feathers are meant to cool as much as to heat, and that they are also designed to protect the skin surface.

One American observer, an inhabitant of Machipongo, Virginia, proclaimed on May 23, 2002, "The featherless chicken is cruel, obscene, and absurd."

There were similarly carping memos from SCAM (The Schmaltz Consumers Association of Maryland), SICK (Schmaltz Importers Co-operative of Kansas) and CLUCK, the Chicken Liver Underwriters Council of Kalamazoo.

CHICKENS NOT INTERVIEWED

BUT no one consulted with the chickens. It seems that they liked the bare bikini look in the Summer. Why wouldn't they? How would you like to play in the Negev at 110 degrees while wearing a fur coat?

And so it came to pass that within the group of surviving featherless chickens another miracle took place in the Jerusalem Hills. There was an unexpected adaptation in the chicken schmaltz chromosome (CSC) adjacent to the chicken feather chromosome (CFC) These birds stopped laying down subcutaneous fat. Word spread rapidly on the chicken web, err..., net.(www.coolchick.edu).

When the rest of the world's chickens heard about the cool chicks they developed an anxiety precipitated fat depletion throughout their entire bodies. Weight psychiatrists, of course, remain puzzled and skeptical. And thus a chicken fat shortage loomed large in January, 2003. Experts say that by April there will be no fat for schmaltz.

The tale of the bad news birds spread rapidly. Entire restaurant and manufacturing industries in New York are preparing for the fat famine. Producers of Yiddish goods all over New Jersey are suffering. No schmaltz means no matzoh balls, no spreads for bread, no potato pancakes, and no chopped liver. It is rumored, but not confirmed, that Mrs. Manischewitz and Mrs. Adler had severe indigestion and heartburn

In Cleveland, Ohio, philanthropist and noted fresser (eater) Jerome Schmelzer was going a little mashugina (crazy). He is in charge of the 65th birthday party for his Cleveland Heights High School class of 1956 to be held this July. One of the highlights of the class banquet was to be a chicken liver and schmaltz appetizer. He was going to call it the 'Schmelzer Schmaltzer'. But not to worry, Schmelzer is organizing an ad hoc committee that plans to go to Southern Israel to chase down the few remaining chubby dixie chicks. Costs are tax deductible if you keep your receipts!

THE SCHMALTZ FACTOR

For those of you who want to try it -- schmaltz can be made in a few minutes. That is, if you have some chicken fat in storage.

The ingredients are simple: 1/4 cup water; 1 medium onion sliced;1 small apple peeled, cored and sliced; chicken skin 1" squares; 1 pound chicken fat, roughly cut.

To Prepare: Put ingredients in a heavy pot with a cover on a medium fire. Leave the cover on until the sound of the water boiling and crackling is done. Remove the cover and lower the heat to low. Drain the clear fat at the first sign of browning. This is the clearest portion and is good as a spread for bread. Allow the remainder to cook on low heat.

Even as we talk amongst ourselves, thousands of agents from drug and pharmaceutical companies are scouring the Israeli deserts to locate and analyze fowl with the chicken non-fat gene. If we can isolate this gene maybe prosperity and peace will break out everywhere including The Middle East!

In thinness there is hope!

A happy and joyous Purim and a premature Passover to you all.

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Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical- legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.

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