A lot of people don’t know much more about chickens than what they put in their mouth. After all, they all taste the same after they’re cooked, right? Wrong! While the taste differences may be subtle, they can be detected by real chicken connoisseurs.
Some people don’t know the difference between a hen and a rooster. When people fall for the rooster laying an egg joke, I know I’m right. The White Leghorn is the most well-known breed of chicken, and it’s probably what all the chicken farmers prefer. It may not be the best-tasting chicken breed.
To be honest, the first time I saw anything but a white chicken was when I was in the Philippines. [I may have seen others at my grandmother’s house, but it’s been well over 40 years, so I don’t remember.] I’ve never seen a red chicken. The plumage on roosters doesn’t count. I’ve seen brown and black chickens, though, as they grazed around our compound in Olongapo. I also saw them just before I ate them.
How a chicken tastes probably has more to do with what they eat than how they look. Those fed with chicken feed are far less tasty than those that forage for themselves.
The Filipinos in the area where I live call one breed “White Leghorn”, another breed “Cantonese” and the rest of them “native”. They’re probably wrong about all of them but the White Leghorn. I’m almost positive the native chickens are actually junglesfowls.
I think chickens in America, destined for consumption, are overfed. They’re fatter than the chickens in other places. You’ve probably been told that chickens can’t fly. Well, I saw them fly in the Philippines and hang out on low-hanging tree branches.
I went to KFC on Okinawa with someone (I don’t remember who) when I was stationed there, in 1987. I remember complaining about the pieces, which were smaller than what you get in the United States. Something tells me they weren’t cooking or importing pieces of overfed White Leghorn chickens.
I can’t tell you what breed of chickens I’ve eaten in the Philippines, but I’ve eaten chickens of all colors, both hens and roosters. Most of the time, I got to see what they looked like while they were still living (broiler chicken).
When you buy those that have already been cleaned and butchered at the supermarket, you have no idea what you’re getting. You could be eating other types of birds that just taste like chicken.
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in August 2014.