If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck…

Surely you’ve done it: come home from the store and discovered you hadn’t bought what you’d thought you’d bought. Diet Coke instead of regular. The wrong kind of cream cheese. The wrong size light bulbs. So have I… but never like this.

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Today I picked up a chicken at the grocery store to roast for dinner. We’ve had mixed success with chickens here in Paris. The best one was from the little grocery store without much selection. The toughest, least flavorful one was sadly a spendy bird from the butcher. And none of them have been quite the same as what I’m used to at home. So when the one I picked up today seemed a touch narrow, the wings a bit more prominent, the flap of neck skin longer, I took note, but chalked it up to the fact I still don’t know my French chickens very well. I halved a mandarine orange and stuck it in the bird, popped it in the oven along with some quartered potatoes, sliced onions, carrots and garlic and roasted that thing.

Turns out it’s not just my chickens I don’t know very well. I started to carve the bird, taking off the first leg, the wing, and then moving onto the first side of the breast. As soon as I sliced into it, I knew: that’s no chicken… that’s dark meat!

But what was it? A small goose? A duck? But how could it be? I know the word for duck, it’s canard, and I knew I hadn’t seen that when I bought it. I dug the plastic wrapping the bird had come in out of the trash. In large, fancy script was emblazoned the word Canette. I’d taken that to be the brand name or something. Turns out it means duckling!

Oh well! I finished carving and served up. I’d never roasted a duck before, but I knew it wasn’t just like roasting a chicken. The girls were good sports, but none of us were exactly crazy about how it had turned out. Mind you, not that it was inedible or anything. Just a bit tougher than what we were hoping for.

Maybe I’ll buy one on purpose sometime and do it up proper, taking advantage of all that duck fat and getting the skin nice and crispy. Next time. Or maybe next time I’ll make sure I’m actually buying a chicken.

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