Monday, April 6, 2009

And Then, The Peacock

On Thursday evening, as I was driving through Victoria Park, a neighborhood in downtown Fort Lauderdale, I encountered a peacock. I was easing to a stop at a four-way intersection when it appeared, eyeing me over its shoulder.

Victoria Park is a neighborhood of oddballs. In my mind, it is a jumble of old and new, groomed lawns and sprawling tropical jungle-yards. There are no curbs along the streets, and few streetlights. The older homes have personality: you'll find yellow and cerulean blue walls, fences with ceramic suns and moons, riotous Bougainvillea in magenta bloom. Next door may be an austere three-story townhouse with massive glass windows and unadorned right-angles. I like driving through Victoria Park. It's like an architectural trip to the zoo. Still, this was the first time I found actual wildlife.

As I came to a stop at the four-way intersection, the peacock paused, his head cocked over his shoulder. It was indeed a showy male bird, not a demure brown peahen. The peacock's funny little crown bobbled for a moment as the bird resumed his strutty walk across the street, ten feet in front of my car. I sat entranced.

Then, off to my right, a flash of red. A boy, no more than nine years old, in a red t-shirt and shorts, came running toward the peacock. No, sprinting. His eyes locked on the bird, he pumped his arms in approved Olympic style, his cheeks bellowing in and out, sprinting toward the peacock.

The peacock lifted its skirt of feathers and trotted away. Bird and boy disappeared around a corner.

I sat at the four-way stop a few moments longer, confounded. Part of me wanted to follow them, to hear the first part of the story, and to hear the last part as well. Clearly, I'd happened upon the middle of the story and I wanted to know more.

They were gone, though, as if they'd never appeared in the intersection.

Something else interesting happened last week: a couple of bloggers sent poems to me in response to this post. This is why I love blogging: the call and response that we share. Thank you to the Greasy Skillet and Foodycat!

Two weeks ago, I promised you a recipe that incorporates preserved lemons. Here it is.

Poulet aux Citrons Confits et Olives
Adapted from this recipe at

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons dried coriander
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
A pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 cup olive oil
1 3-pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup Ni├žoise or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
1 preserved lemon (small), chopped fine

In a large ovenproof skillet, stir together the onion, the garlic, the ginger, the cinnamon stick, the dried coriander, the parsley, the lemon juice, the saffron, the oil, and 1 cup water, put the chicken on top of the mixture, and season it with salt and pepper.

Bake the chicken, covered, in the middle of a preheated 375°F. oven for 45 minutes (or until it registers 160 degrees on a thermometer), transfer it to a cutting board, and let it stand, covered loosely, for 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into quarters.

Add the olives and the preserved lemon to the sauce in the skillet and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the sauce for 3 to 5 minutes. Nestle the chicken into the skillet and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the chicken is just heated through. Discard the cinnamon stick and serve the chicken with a generous helping of sauce.

Serves: 4


Foodycat said...

This is why the internet is good - somewhere in the world you are going to encounter SOMEONE who likes food, and poetry, and wants to know the fate of the peacock!

Grace said...

great story, sarah! meanwhile, i thought the punchline was going to be that you ate some peacock. i wonder if it tastes like chicken... :)

muddywaters said...

I love this story. Great description. It makes me chuckle. Part of me wishes you had a picture of this scene, but part of me is happy that you didn't have a camera. Your vivid description pleases my imagination.

I once saw a panicked man chase a Llama down the highway. Out of the blue, I'll picture this memory and start giggling. The contrast of the panicked man's face with the easy, casual lope of the Llama cracks me up.