by Baxter Balick, Rype & Readi Contributing Writer, Flagler Sophomore College Student
At the Rype & Readi Market, there lived five hens. Four of the hens had brown feathers and were quite young, but the fifth was older, wiser, and had more than a few white feathers. This hen was known as Paprika, and she was essentially the leader of the Market’s brood of chickens.
It would even be accurate to say that Paprika was the leader of all the animals at the market. After all, she was the smartest and the kindest. She helped keep the other animals in line, and helped out Farmer Seb and the rest of the Market’s employees wherever she could.
And this day, Paprika happened to be decidedly peeved with her fellow animals.
The reason for her unhappiness was simple: the Market’s Chef, Gordon, had brought a new kind of produce to the market, a sweet potato that was purple on the inside, and so delicious that it could even be eaten raw, and he wanted to get the opinions of all the animals on the market. Paprika had been doubtful about the odd food at first, but one taste was all she’d needed to find she adored it, and she promptly rushed off to share her new discovery with all her friends.
Unfortunately, that’s when the problems arose.
“So, you really don’t have the time to go and try the new sweet potatoes?” Paprika repeated dryly, her brood squirming uncomfortably under her flat gaze.
“Er, y-yes, we’re j-just so very b-b-busy, so much to do, n-not even a moment to spare…” Henrietta stammered out, her head darting left and right in an effort to look anywhere but into the matronly fowl’s eyes… before perking up as a thought struck her. “I-In fact, I-I’m afraid I have to go right now, to, uh… p-preen my feathers!” And with that, the younger chicken fled before Paprika could get a word in edgewise.
With mounting exasperation, the head hen turned her attention back to the rest of her feathered friends but, unfortunately, they’d all gotten the same idea as their flock-mate.
“I’ve got an appointment with a farmhand to have my talons buffed!” Hendra clucked as she darted off.
“I think I hear one of my eggs hatching!” Henny scampered into the henhouse to check on the clutch of eggs she’d hatched that very morning.
“And I need to—!… uh…” Henily’s enthusiasm died mid-sentence as her mind drew a blank. She then chuckled uneasily when Paprika’s full and undivided attention fell upon her. “Go… sort… the hay?”
Paprika kept Henny pinned for a few moments longer before covering her eyes with a groan and waving her wing dismissively. “Oh, just go.”
And so it was that Paprika walked away from her coop with a defeated sigh while Henny strutted away victoriously. “Honestly, now,” she muttered to herself. “To think that my friends could be so…so chick-ish! So what if the new potatoes are purple? They’re still delicious! The least they could do is give it a try!”
Disappointed though she was, Paprika was not to be deterred. After all, even if her sisters weren’t willing to try the new potatoes, she knew several other hungry beaks on the market who had active appetites!
“I’m sorry, Paprika, but I just can’t let my chicks eat what you’ve described.”
Paprika could not help herself but to gape at Mama Turkey in shock. “Wha—!? But why?”
“Well, because it’s purple of course!” the turkey gobbled with as much of a grimace as her beak allowed. “Potatoes are meant to be purple on the outside sometimes, but never on the inside! It’s not right, and I can’t, in good conscience, allow my chicks to eat it. You wouldn’t feed your chicks something that was clearly not right, would you?”
“Not without trying it myself, which I already have,” the chicken got out in a tone of forced calm, which was entirely lost on Mama Turkey.
“Well, you might be perfectly entitled to raising your chicks your way,” she sniffed firmly. “But I plan to raise them mine. Have a good day, Paprika.”
And with that, the chicken had no choice but to walk off yet again in defeat. Defeated, maybe, but not without some measure of determination yet remaining. While all of her other feathered compatriots might have forsaken her, she knew she had one last chance to share left on the market.
At the least, she was completely certain that these two would eat anything she brought before them.
“Sorry, but we wo-o-o-on’t eat that.”
“OH, COME ON!” Paprika burst out, flapping her wings indignantly at the indifferent Gomez and Bailey. “I’ve seen you eat the paper off a tin can, and even nibble at the can itself a bit! What possible reason could there be for you to not want to eat these delicious sweet potatoes!?”
“We-e-e-ell,” Bailey bleated thoughtfully. “It’s true that we goats will eat a lo-o-o-ot of stuff.”
“We’ll eat anything that’s gre-e-e-en,” Gomez concurred.
“Anything that’s re-e-e-ed.”
“Anything that’s ye-e-e-ellow.”
“Anything that’s bro-o-o-own.”
“But no-o-o-ot purple,” they finished as one.
Paprika was fuming by this point, steam all but shooting from the sides of her head. She opened her mouth to give the goats a piece of her mind… and paused when a thought occurred to her. “So you’re telling me… that the only reason you don’t want to eat the sweet potatoes… is that they’re purple, yes?”
“Yu-u-u-up,” Gomez droned.
“Exa-a-a-actly,” Bailey confirmed.
The hen stared at the goats for a few seconds before slowly nodding. “Very well, then. If you’ll excuse me.”
With that, Paprika turned around and walked away. The moment she was out of sight, she sped up to a run as she went to find Chef Gordon.
Later that night, Paprika announced to the market’s animals that Chef Gordon had helped her prepare a very special dinner for them. The animals had been skeptical at first, but after seeing that the meal was a perfectly normal-looking bowl of soup, they all asked for a bowl.
The reactions were not disappointing.
“Mmm, this is delicious!” Henrietta clucked eagerly, the rest of her sisters speaking up in agreement.
“I’m going to have to bring a bowl of this back for my chicks!” Mama Turkey hummed in satisfaction.
“Not ba-a-a-ad,” Gomez admitted, which, coming from him, was high praise indeed.
“What’s i-i-i-in it?” Bailey inquired.
“Oh, you know, the usual,” Paprika waved her wing dismissively as she started walking away from the pot. “Tomatoes, carrots, onions, all for flavor… oh, but of course, the main ingredients were several sweet potatoes. You know, those purple ones I tried to get you to taste earlier?”
The chicken preened as the other animals fell silent and stared at her in shock.
“I’ll accept your apologies in the form of bird seed,” she smiled benevolently.
And with that, Paprika turned her tail on her friends and strutted away with her head held high.
Come the next morning, there were nearly a dozen bags of seed in front of the chicken coop.
Moral of the story: Something might not seem good at first glance, but if you give it a try, chances are you’ll be surprised.
Paprika suggests these fun recipes. Give them a try!
- Berry Pitaya Smoothie Bowl – a delicious purple smoothie you can eat with a spoon!
- Peruvian Purple Potato Soup – a yummy purple soup!
- Oh My, Purple Potato Pie – this might just be your new favorite dessert!