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  • Simone de Muñoz

Quarantine Chicken

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

April 28, 2020

I was daydreaming about chicken schnitzel. Warm, golden pieces of breaded and pan-fried chicken perfectly salted and served with lemon slices. Ever since the quarantine, we had each stepped up our cooking game. I had been baking bread as if every white country sample loaf gave us a shot at saving the world. My husband, Enrique, started at near zero, so any cooking whatsoever was progress, even the hot pockets he microwaved for our son. Our au pair Niklas; however, had really found his moment. He had perfected chicken schnitzel. His chicken schnitzel might have even been better than my grandmother’s. Shh -- don’t say anything or she might send up a fireball from her final resting place.

Unfortunately, Enrique had returned from his weekly Safeway trip with zero chicken. They were all out. Supply chain issues, I guess. Moments after his return, my phone dinged. Perfect timing! It was a message from my neighbor, Elaine. “Making a Costco run. Need anything?” Chicken! It was meant to be! I politely requested some chicken tenders or if not, any other chicken. I put down the phone and returned to work at my makeshift kitchen-table desk. I had to satisfy myself with crunching numbers. Soon, though, I would be crunching delicious chicken.

My phone dinged again. Elaine was back from Costco. “Be right back, I’m going to get the chicken!” I shouted vaguely at my house. I stuffed my wallet into the pocket of my new “work” pants -- maroon Old Navy joggers. Freedom! I walked outside my front door with no children in tow for the first time in days! I took a deep breath of fresh air, smelling the Spring flowers. I felt the warm sun on my face. I listened to the silence -- no one was telling me a story about Minecraft or Pokemon. My walk was over too quickly when I arrived at Elaine’s house to find her unloading groceries. She approached me holding a large, colorful box that looked like it might contain breakfast cereal. The look on my face must have been one of confusion. As she got closer, I realized that the box did not, in fact, contain chicken tenders, but dinosaur nuggets -- a child’s version of chicken schnitzel.

“Chicken nuggets?” I said questioningly.

“Isn’t that what you said?” she replied.

“Chicken tenders.”

“Oh.”

It was awkward. Of course I took them and said thank you and that I would Venmo her. Back at my house, it took a while to stuff the nuggets into the freezer already packed with apocalypse essentials: enough frozen fruit for 300 smoothies even though no one in the house ever operates the blender, pizza, ice cream (obviously), and tamales. Don’t judge me! What do you have in your freezer?

We sat down to eat. As often happens, immediately after dinner, my younger son was starving to death. “How about some chicken nuggets for dessert?” I offered. I suggested that my older son top his ice cream with some chicken nuggets as an alternative to chocolate chips. Planning ahead, I told everyone that chicken nuggets made an excellent midnight snack, breakfast option, or salad topper. As they often do, my family looked at me as though I had completely lost my mind. Do you know what’s good for that? Chicken schnitzel, but in a pinch, chicken nuggets will do.

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