Thursday, September 2, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

I was delighted to see that the movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book Eat Pray Love features poultry in several places. The film opens in Bali, where Runner Ducks scamper along the road.

Runner Ducks, such as these of Troy Griepentrog's, were developed in Southeast Asia, where they were – are – herded from the home pen to rice paddies, where they consume the snails and insects in the water. They are part of an agricultural system that incorporates all factors into production.

Rather than the typical duck’s waddle, they run along quickly, head high atop a tall, slim body.

In Italy, Liz organizes a Thanksgiving dinner, a traditional American feast transplanted to a culture that takes food seriously. But the person who was supposed to defrost the bird forgets to, so the assembled partiers have to improvise. They proceed with preparing the feast, eating turkey the next day for breakfast.

I’m not sure how commercially available in Italy now, but they have been popular there since the 16th century. Columbus brought turkeys back from his journeys and they the wealthy nobility embraced them, often keeping them in private zoos. Because turkeys bred so well, they became more generally available. Black turkeys such as this one of Mikes Walters', were popular.

Italy is Liz’ first stop on her year of self-discovery and healing after a bitter divorce. It’s the Eat destination, where she recovers her joy in indulging herself. She’s feeding herself literally as well as spiritually.

Turkey is the traditional centerpiece of our family-gathering American festival of gratitude. It’s fitting that Liz shares it with her European friends.

As she moves on to India to meditate and pray, chickens crow frequently in the background. She connects with a friendly elephant in a touching scene.

Back in Bali, where she falls in love, crowing continues, although no chickens take active roles.

Liz didn’t mention any poultry that I recall in the book version, so I found it interesting that they were added to the movie. The symbolic meaning of animals is powerful. Our connection with them is primal and profound. Their beauty and spiritual meaning adds so much to our lives and celebrations.

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