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Marcel the One Eyed Cockerel

coq au vin

I was told a great story the other day… of determination and overcoming the odds… involving a chicken.

My British friend L lives in a gorgeous little bungalow on the edge of a river in Saint-Omer. It is one of the most unique houses and locations I know and I find it quite captivating though sadly she is selling it and returning to the UK to be with her family. To get to the house you have to cross the river as it is on its own little island! A boat is moored on the road side of the river and a chain is threaded through a handle. You get in the boat and pull yourself across on the chain – it’s quite a narrow river so it only takes a minute but it’s great fun.

In her garden is a three room summer house built by American soldiers in the 1940s when they were billeted in the area. In her front room is the most magnificent wood panelling which the man who built the house in 1902 installed from a mansion in Paris. I love the little house because there’s just so much to see everywhere you look.

Anyway I’m digressing so I’ll get back to the story….

L loves animals… she recently drove to Bosnia to rescue a dog and has a three-legged cat and keeps chickens that like to sit on her lap! She has a big summer terrace where she sits and watches TV and says that whenever Lady Gaga comes on the screen – ALL the chickens are mesmerised and sit and stare at it.

She told me that one of her French neighbours knocked at the door one day and asked “Do you like Coq”.

“Yes”, she said, “Coq au vin is one of my favourite dishes” (hoping that the neighbour couldn’t hear her husband sniggering in the kitchen). “Ah good” says he, “I have a coq for you”, and he handed her a dead cockerel for the cooking pot. It had one eye hanging out and its neck was flopped over and it lay there still as death.

L says she thanked him and off he went, pulling himself back across the river and she went into the kitchen to show her husband the neighbour’s gift. Like me, she doesn’t kill her birds, just eats the eggs they lay so she was a bit taken aback at having a dead bird thrust into her hands.

The pair stood looking at the poor departed creature and then… the eye that was still in its socket opened, the neck straightened up and the bird gave a feeble squawk and sighed.

L and her husband fed and watered him and stayed up all night making sure he was okay – they named him Marcel.

Marcel the one eyed coq lived in safety on their island for many years with his wonky neck, hiding whenever anyone came out the garden that wasn’t L or her husband (you can’t really blame him can you?). Eventually he died at a ripe old age after living a long and happy life!

A bientôt

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