Boiling Point: Why dinosaurs taste like chicken

Jim Hillibish

After years of ponderous study, computer modeling and double-blind taste tests, the shocking discovery is that dinosaurs tasted like chicken.

Admit it, every indescribable food we’ve never tasted “tastes like chicken.”

It’s such a cliché. The words are thrown into TV comedy skits with no relation to food, past or present. Even that testical-eating wildebeest Andrew Zimmern uses it to nausea on “Bizarre Foods” (Travel Channel). It always gets a laugh. OK, a retching one.

Poultry is one strange bird in the meat world. Fat in meat coaxes flavor along. In chicken, fat is the flavor. Period. Proof is the dry, skinless chicken breast that needs a half stick of butter to taste real.

Flavor comes from muscle in normal meat. In poultry, it’s all in the fat.

The result: Chicken flavor is generic. Nobody ever claimed chicken to be savory. Anything else that tastes bland obviously “tastes like chicken.” So there is truth in the cliché.

As for the dinos, the evidence trail is strong for chicken flavor. Dinosaurs are ancestors of birds. Of course they should taste like chicken. Unfortunately, fossils taste like rock, so we’ll never know for sure.

Other dinosaur relatives are the alligator, bullfrog, iguana and turtle. Of course, folks who sample these, even in chili, claim they “taste like chicken.”

The alligator is one tough flavor. Perhaps it is a combination of calamari and chicken cacciatore.

The most common reference is the rabbit. Rabbit is slightly gamy, but the flavor definitely leans toward chicken. It’s cooked the same way: fried, roasted or stewed.

Eskimos have chewed seal meat and blubber for centuries. They feel at home consuming Chicken McNuggets, which require a strong dipping sauce to taste blubber.

The ambiguous yet universal flavor of chicken makes it perfect for processed foods. This is the only chicken that does not taste like chicken. It tastes like hot dogs, bologna and on and on. The entire flavor comes from spices.

Asian friends cannot fathom why we don’t eat our cats and dogs. “They taste like chicken!” they say.

Get out of here.

As usual, we can blame our parents for this debasement of the noble poultry. Remember when dad brought home a bag of dead squirrels?  Maybe not. But if he did, he got you to eat them by explaining, “Hey, it tastes like chicken already.”

No, dad, it tastes like Rocky the Squirrel.

I have this fantasy about a hunter in Tahiti netting a wayward chicken. He fries it for his family. They pick at it until he exclaims, “Hey, it tastes like coelacanth.” That’s the dinosaur fish. And this proves the theory.