Ducks and food

June 11, 2018 • 2:30 pm

I’ll combine a duck post with a food post today. Since “d” comes before “f”, here’s the Daily Duck Report.

I’ve not much to tell: there are still eight ducklings and they’re entering their awkward teenage stage, with their down becoming spiky feathers. They’re still ineffably cute, though. And their peeps, which they make when separated from mom, are getting louder. I now have a ton of duck food, but don’t know if it will see me through fledging. And they’re foraging on their own, both on the grass and in the lily pads. This is from today’s noon feeding:

Frank hasn’t been seen in two days, and I wonder if he’s gone for keeps. Though he’s likely the father of these ducklings, and used to eat from my hand, I have mixed feelings, since he chased and disturbed the ducklings during feeding time. Henry’s still around, though, and is still being chased around (and out of) the pond by Honey. I give him food on the grass. Poor beleaguered mallard! Here are two views of the lad.

Periscope up!

Next, food. Yesterday I met my friend Simon, who does research on prostate cancer up in Evanston, for one of our occasional meals in local restaurants. This one was my choice, the Birrieria Zaragoza, near Midway Airport. It specializes in marinated and stewed goat; in fact, that’s all there is on the menu except for quesadillas. You can have a big or small plate of goat, with bone in or bone out. The juices that come on the plate make a terrific soup, and of course must be spooned up and slurped.

It’s a very small place, and wildly popular. Best not to go on a Sunday, we were told, but we didn’t know any better. The manager told us that they can have up to 100 people waiting for just a few tables. Fortunately, we were just two people, and got seated in about 20 minutes. Here’s the interior:

Here’s the menu taken from their website:

I got the big plate, no bones; Simon went for the bones. The dish comes with a thick tomato salsa, diced onions, cilantro, fresh line, and an endless supply of the best corn tortillas I’ve ever had: thick, made by hand, and served so hot they burn your hands. You make tacos with the goat:

A well constructed taco. You can see how thick those tortillas are. We went through six each, and could have had more had we not finished the goat. It was fabulous!

Driving home, I decided I wanted a paleta for dessert; these are handmade Mexican fruit ices, and at this nearby place came in about 25 flavors. I opted for strawberry but now regret I didn’t get mango or even rice pudding. (I should also have photographed the big case full of them.) A paleta is a light and refreshing dessert after a heavy meal of goat. This paleteria specializes not only in paletas, but Mexican ice cream in tropical fruit flavors, and various yogurt concoctions also made with tropical fruit. They also have regular food.

My paleta fresa, which soon vanished into my gob. The fruit and water are mixed with milk, so these are called paletas de leche.


20 thoughts on “Ducks and food

  1. Henry is a cool dude but I have a feeling that underneath the facade he is just another Frank like they all are.

    1. I think poor Henry is traumatized from last year’s attempt to hang out in a pond at Northeastern. He’d heard about all the quack science in the Dept of Women’s Studies, and misunderstood….

  2. Looks like great food. Has been many years since I was in Chicago and only for short times. Seems like Midway was in Cicero, maybe some of it a rough part of town.

    1. Sort of. Midway is on Cicero ave in the Westlawn, Clearing, Garfield Ridge neighborhoods. It’s a few miles south of the town of Cicero, which is also on Cicero Ave.

    1. Unfortunately I’m flying out from the other airport Sunday or else I’d stop and try some. It looks delicious.

  3. How’s the tripe, if you’ve tried it? I loves me some tripe, though I don’t get it that often. Got my buddy the chef to fix it the last time I visited; stinks up the kitchen somethin’ fierce, and his wife and kids complained, but it tasted mighty fine.

  4. Goat is good! My daughter does a wonderful haunch of goat on special occasions. She raises the goats herself.

  5. “They’re still ineffably cute, though.”

    This may be a stupid question, but I’ve always been curious: is cuteness considered a survival asset in animals and, if so, is it geared explicitly to humans? I.e., I can’t imagine any other potential predators being deterred by the cuteness factor?

    Does Honey thinks her brood is cute?

    1. They are surviving because they live in man made conditions with a special man who cares for them. I could be wrong.

    2. Humans are supposedly selected to find the big heads and eyes, and disproportionate features, of human babies, cute. Those individuals who found the appearance of their babies repugnant would be less likely to care for them and would leave fewer genes. Over time, that would favor genes that made us think human babies are cute. (Those disproportionate features are also seen in kittens, ducks, etc., and others have speculated that this is why humans find baby animals of many sorts cute).

      I suspect the same goes for ducks, cats, etc. Selection has made them find the appearance of their offspring, which itself is conditioned by the constraints of development, appealing, and those sentiments invoke protectiveness and parental care. Whether that means Honey thinks her ducklings are “cute”, well, we don’t know: we don’t have the mind of a duck. But I’m sure she finds those babylike features something that stimulates her maternal behavior.

      Many people have written about this before, including Steve Gould on his essay about why Mickey Mouse has become more “infantile” in appearance since he first appeared as the ratlike Steamboat Willie in early Disney cartoons. Now Mickey looks more like a human baby, with a huge head and big eyes. The essay is online, and I’d recommend you read the whole thing:

  6. The fruit ice place. The area of Mexico that the place is how I learned how to cook Mexican food. Handmade tortillas, everything.

  7. Oh man, I love some good tacos and that looks like a fabulous taco meal. Good, fresh tortillas are so much better than the typical store bought it really takes a taco to the next level.

    The only times I’ve had goat is at Caribbean restaurants, usually Jamaican, at which I get the curried goat any time it is recommended.

  8. All looks delicious!

    Does your paleteria offer chamoyadas? I usually prefer my raspas (lime! mango!) to be unadulterated, but chamoy provides an interesting flavor that’s worth trying. Tajin seasoning is also available at paleterias/raspas stands here (like all good South Texans, I keep a huge bottle in my kitchen and sprinkle it on all kinds of things: eggs, avocados, popcorn, corn on the cob, etc.).

  9. Here if one wanted goat stew one would likely go to one of the slightly more upscale Arab places, or in Montreal one could go to some of the “petite Magrheb” stuff too.

    We don’t really have much Latin American worth a darn as far as I can tell, but I should look more into that place I found by chance once. (It was takeout/food truck style but very good.)

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