Neck deep in margarine

Here may enter a new catchphrase for unbridled joy, to supplant the old crass one about pigs in shit

Neck deep in margarine

A brick of Olivani sits in our fridge for a year before we decide what to do with it. Friends who looked after our house while we were away left it behind.

Olivani, for the uninitiated, is essentially margarine. But it’s marketed as a “spread” extracted from some golden, offshore olive grove.

I have no personal grievance against Olivani. It’s just not a substance we eat in our home. My children Neko and Ida don’t know what margarine is.

I slowly pull back the Olivani lid to show the children what lies within.

“It looks like pale butter,” Ida says. “But shinier.”

I try to explain margarine’s purpose, but my children find the concept confusing.

We all consult on what to do, including my wife Vic, who has a strong opinion about margarine. That is: she swings strongly Pro Butter. The rest of us follow Vic’s lead. Because she is smart, but also because of the taste of the butter.

We agree that this Olivani cannot remain on the third central shelf up, illuminated by the cold fridge light every time we open the door, forever. We also marvel that an entire year of solitude has not marred the Olivani’s gleaming surface in the slightest.

We wonder who might appreciate it. Surely it should not go to waste. It is sold as food.

“The chickens?” I suggest.

“The chickens?” the others wonder.

My son Neko and I venture down to the chicken run in our back garden. Neko sets the tub of Olivani on the ground with the lid off.

The chickens don’t immediately rush for it, but they do look at it, and at each other.

We turn away to collect eggs from the coop and scatter grain alongside the Olivani.

A flurry of flapping and gobbling.

The chickens sample the Olivani and are now fighting over space beside the tub. They are possessed with a drive to gorge themselves.

The chickens bury their faces in the tub, wriggling to burrow to the bottom, filling up their necks with the Olivani. Each chicken swallows desperately, for after a moment they are pushed aside by another chicken struck with the margarine madness.

Some of the chickens stumble, for their eyes are covered with Olivani. It slathers their beaks, heads, necks. As they jostle for position, they spread the Olivani on each other’s wings. Flecks of margarine are flung into the air as chickens whip back their heads to suck down the pale yellow gold, before diving in for more.

These are not starved chickens. They are well fed, on relatively premium food scraps, both from our household and the neighbours. Fruit. Rice. Peas. Old stir fries. The previous evening’s fish and chips. And on occasion: bread, for which they will go to battle with each other.

But nothing to date has provoked them to such a frenzy as the Olivani.

The Olivani is being appreciated to the maximum degree.

People eat Olivani, but I haven’t observed any person behave like this. If margarine popularity were to dip, companies producing margarine might seriously consider pivoting to animal feed.

Here may enter a new catchphrase for unbridled joy, to supplant the old crass one about pigs in shit: “Happy as a chicken neck deep in margarine.”

The magical part of having chickens is watching them enjoy food that might otherwise go to waste. And receiving eggs in return. Sometimes the food we give them isn’t all that exciting, but the chickens hardly seem to mind. But from now on, on special occasions when I want to treat our chickens royally, so they feel like birds of splendour supping on the food of the gods, I know what to get them.