Grampa Jim loved chicken and chicken soup. Most of his teeth were gone, so he had a hard time chewing tough meats. When Mom made chicken soup, she used the entire chicken in the pot. We ate the soup with her homemade noodles. For chicken soup she cut the dough into long fine strands. We ate the soup first. She served the boiled chicken parts for the main course. Dad always took the breast; I always took a leg. Gramps stuck to the wings, feet, neck, and head. He thought he would be taking it off our plate if he took a larger part to eat.
By the end of the meal he had the neck sucked down to a pile of discrete vertebrae. He did the same with the wings, and feet. We all hated the boiled skin, so we pushed it aside into a pile on our plates. Gramps always asked for the skin, remarking “You’re leaving the best part behind”.
Toward the end of the meal, Gramps attacked the chicken head. He used the fine point of his pocket knife blade to pick the eyes from the socket, and eat the eye right off the tip. He never washed his pocket knife, he only wiped it off, folded it, and put it back into his pocket. I was with him at times when he used the same knife to cut fish for bait.
It was a short time before the chicken head was a bare bony skull; smaller than a walnut. One would think that there was nothing more to eat, but we were always wrong. Gramps set the skull down on the table. He lined up the sharp edge of his knife along the top of the skull. Then, SLAM. He hit the dull side of the knife with a karate chop. The heel of his hand slammed against the knife to split the skull in two. Again, he used the very tip of the knife to pick out the chicken brain which was the size of a small pea. Sometimes he had to pick a piece out of both parts. The brain disappeared into his mouth off the end of the knife like it was caviar.