this is part of as days pass by, by Stuart Langridge

My two favourite real life stories are the one about the chicken and the one about the knife.

There was a woman, cooking chicken. Her daughter was watching her, and asked her why, before she put the chicken in the oven, she cut the legs off of it and put them into the oven separately. "I don't know," replied the woman. "My mother always did it, and I just picked up the habit from her. We'll ask her."

So, the next time they took the daughter to see her grandmother, they both asked the grandmother why she cut the legs off a chicken before cooking it. The grandmother thought for a while, and said, "It's just a habit of mine; I do it because my mother did it."

Fortunately, the great-grandmother was still alive, in a nursing home. So, the next time they visited, the three generations of women asked her why she cut the legs off a chicken before cooking it, as it was a habit that had been passed on without them knowing the reason why. The old woman laughed, and told them that when she was young, and just starting out in the world, she cut off the chicken's legs because otherwise it was too big to fit in her oven.

There was a woman cooking, and she discovered that her main chef's knife was blunt. Puzzled, because she knew that it had been fairly sharp the day before, she called on her young son, and asked him whether he knew anything about the knife's bluntness. "I don't understand why it's blunt," said the son. "It was perfectly sharp when I cut that brick in half with it this morning."

© Aquarius, August 2001