What is chicken? How are purple?
"I worked in the Kosher Kitchen, this little segment of the dining hall that was run by Orthodox Jews and catered to Jews who keep kosher at a little liberal arts college in upstate New York.
"Sometimes we got Cornish hens. I loved those: They were amazing. The chef would cut them in half because we would run out before the first hour of dinner if he didn't, and we rarely made it to the end of the night with any left regardless.
"We also had the dinner menu on top of the flattop over the sneeze guard on the hot table. People rarely read the menu (you wouldn't believe the number of people who've looked at the tray of tilapia and asked me if it was chicken). However, one night, we've got the hens, and this guy -- young, fit, pretty clearly a freshman -- comes up and pauses to read the menu. I mentally award him two points for thoughtfulness.
"I say, 'Hi, how are you?'
"He says, 'I'm good, how are you?'
"I smile and give him some generic answer."
"Then he asks me, 'What's a Cornish hen?’
"Thinking he's referring to the 'Cornish' part, I start to say, 'It's a breed of hen. They're smaller than regular ones, and I think they come from Cornwall in England.'
"He shakes his head. 'No, what's a HEN?'
"I stop. I stare. The guy standing behind him stares."
"I tell him, 'It's a chicken? A female chicken?'
"He nods. 'Oh, OK. Is it any good?'
"I tell him, 'Yeah, it's delicious, you should definitely get one,’ all the while thinking, 'How the hell do you get to 18 without ever hearing the word 'hen'?"
"I never got an answer." -- Ali Weisman