Engagement Chicken

"The recipe that will make him propose!"

I saw the recipe for “Engagement Chicken” in a 2004 issue of Glamour Magazine. I was 17, and the article stayed with me, perhaps because I was young enough that it made an impact. There was something both sickening yet hilarious about a lemon roasted herb chicken that would make him get down on one knee. If Glamour had to make an analogy for the recipe, it would probably read like this—Poultry: Lifelong Commitment.

It’s one thing to believe that the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and to want to feed the person you love, but to equate a roast chicken with marriage is absurd. Not only is it absurd, it’s degrading. It’s perpetuating the idea that a woman should be a silly, little homemaker able to trick her big ol’ boyfriend into marrying her. It sounds like a bad episode of “I Love Lucy.” So, why did the NY Post run this recipe on the cover of the newspaper today? What does engagement chicken have to do with anything? Are we reverting? Have we grown so fearful, so disengaged by helplessness (Libya, Fukushima, our economy) that we’re putting anti-feminist 1955 nostalgia recipes on the cover of our news? What is going on?

The article about engagement chicken is pretty much the story of how Howard Stern’s wife got him to propose, a proposal that she believes had a lot to do with her chicken. This is in spite of the fact that he proposed 3 years after their dinner. Not only does the chicken have nothing to do with why he married her, she’s taking herself out of the marriage equation. She’s basically saying it was his decision to marry her and she had nothing to do with it; but maybe it was the chicken? “I think [Stern proposed] because of the way it was going with us. And I can cook a mean chicken.” says his wife.

How can we feel as though we’ve achieved any sort of equality at all, when the NY Post tells us that men get to decide when they will marry us? All we can do is wait; putting our faith in a dead bird we’ve covered in salt and pepper. How can this be on the cover of a newspaper while the world is in dire straights? Is it because what really matters, above everything, is that there is a woman in the kitchen, waiting to be married? Is there still nothing worse than a “spinster”? How can we let this happen, and not only accept it, but internalize it so it becomes part of our feminine mythology: “Leive (the recipe’s creator) boasts that more than 70 women have gotten engaged after making the chicken. And that’s just the on-the-record success stories. ‘This isn’t just urban legend. This is real. To this day, people stop me on the street three or four times a week and say Engagement Chicken worked for them.’ Leive boasts that more than 70 women have gotten engaged after making the chicken. ‘Tons of people will e-mail us and will say, ‘But you cannot use my real name because I cannot let my husband know.’ explains Leive.” It should be called en-gag-me chicken.

Image Credit: nypost.com

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The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.

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