Thursday, March 5, 2009

Yellow Chickens

In the US and in other countries I've visited, dead chickens after they've been plucked are close to a shade of fleshy pink. Here, however, they are yellow. Think of rubber chicken yellow, and you've just about got the right hue in your head. 

The first time I bought a whole chicken, I was quite taken by the yellow color and wondered for many months why chickens here are yellow. I wasn't even sure what was natural anymore, pink or yellow. Alas, Andrew Zimmern of the show "Bizarre Foods" did a show in Mexico recently (or it was shown recently), and he commented on the yellow chicken phenomenon. Apparently, Mexican chickens are fed marigolds to flavor their meat and color their hide. Ok, but I'm still a bit skeptical. Can anyone verify this? I have a hard time believing that there are enough marigolds to go around feeding the bazillions of chickens Mexicans consume each day and rather believe that there exist yellow chicken dyers. 

And while I'm on my chicken observation, I have to say that chicken and I have become more intimate here. In the US, I bought something that didn't resemble the chicken at all, just a pink slab of meat without bones, skin, or fat. Here, you not only get all the same pieces of meat, bone, skin, and fat (a lot of it, I noticed), you get toenails! Whew, you can imagine the scare I got when I dug into my chicken cavity and out came a pair of feet. No kidding, I screamed and threw them across the kitchen. It's silly, I know, because I do like eating them, but I just wasn't prepared for chicken toenails. 

If you haven't tried them before, chicken feet are quite the delicacy in Chinese cooking. Oh, what I wouldn't give right now for some braised chicken feet...


  1. You are not alone in your suspicions over yellow chickens. The vibrancy of color both mystifies and terrifies me.

    Here's my favorite pic of pollos amarillos:
    Clearly, there are no concerns w/hygiene here... why bury the chickens in the ice when you could just pile them on top of each other & drape them over the truckbed edge???

  2. oh my, where did you take that photo??

    check this photo out. somebody needs a pedi.

  3. I snapped that one while driving on the Periferico heading south in very slooow traffic. :)

    However, the chicken toenails shot may win the award for most disgusting... I would be convinced that those are a pile of plastic gag toys, if I did not know better...

  4. As I understand it there is some truth behind the marigold morning (early) as I was going through the local market I came upon a "Pollo Stand" and the proprietors were busy rubbing yellow food dye into the skins of the chicken carcasses...
    "Caveat Emptor"as Julius Caesar would say.
    Or as Donovan would say..."Mellow Yellow, I'm just wild about saffron"...

  5. Different breeds of chickens have different colored skin. Americans prefer yellow skin so we tend to eat rock-cornish cross chickens. Britain prefers pink or white skin and eats Sussex or Dorking. The silkie and sumatra breeds actually have BLACK skin and are popular in the far East. BTW the marigold petals that are fed are actually calendula flowers. Hope this helps!