Let me start with this: I don’t eat very many things. I don’t eat red meat. I don’t eat sea food. I don’t eat mushrooms or onions. I don’t eat pickles. I just started eating pork this year and it’s been a very big step for me. So the fact that I ate a fucking chicken heart is shocking.
But let’s back up. Earlier this year I was living in Portugal. I quit my very nice, very well paid job to go work at a hostel. Why? Because I’m impulsive and don’t think things through! But also, it was 100% the right decision for me. So I’m living at this hostel in Lisbon, and I decide it would be fun to redownload Tinder. Cause I’m single and I’m traveling, so why the fuck not? I match with this girl Barbara and we decide to get drinks.
Barbara is from Brazil, but is living in Portugal for school. We meet up, and one of the first questions she asks me is if I like to drink. I can tell right then that we’re going to get along. We go to a bar and order a shit load of caipirinhas (yes, I had to google how to spell that). Then we take the train to her neighborhood and drink beer on the beach. I’m wearing ripped jeans, and you know how ripped jeans have those thin little threads running across the holes? She’s obsessed with picking at them until they’re all perfectly untangled. It’s odd, but cute. We start making out on the beach. It’s kind of adorable. Oh, and did I mention the night this is all taking place on happens to be Valentine’s Day?
We end up back at her place where I end up staying the night. The next morning we eat cereal and watch Brazilian music videos for hours. I swear to God, the Brazilian music that was popular in February of 2017 will forever be ingrained into my brain. But most of it was pretty good, so no complaints.
Next thing you know, it’s early afternoon and hitting that time where I should probably be like “OK, well, I gotta head out…”. But it’s me, and I like to overstay my welcome. Seriously, when I was in high school, I slept over this girl’s house who I had a massive crush on. The next day I didn’t leave until 4 PM. And I could tell that she was ready for me to leave, but I was so secretly in love with her that I just couldn’t bring myself to get off her couch. So we watched 16 and Pregnant until finally she was like “Umm, well, I have some stuff to do, so…”.
But instead of politely telling me I gotta go, Barbara actually invites me to go run errands with her. I’ve only been in Portugal for about 3 weeks at this point, so I don’t exactly have friends or other plans yet. So I tag along. She really needs to pay a bill and apparently the only place she can pay it is at select convenience stores? And she can’t pay it by mail or online? I don’t know, I don’t speak Portuguese at all and English is not her first language, so I think something might have gotten lost in translation there. Anyways, this bill paying adventure leads us to the mall.
Barbara says she’s starving, and I’m like “same, always”. So we head to the food court on the top floor. There’s a bunch of food options, most of which I’ve never heard of before. There is a McDonald’s though, and it’s true, the McDonalds really does taste better in Europe. At the end of the food court, there’s Brazilian restaurant. Barbara very quickly decides that this is what she wants. I’ve never had Brazilian food before, so I decide to eat there too.
It’s a buffet style where you can grab whatever you want. I mostly load up my plate with veggies and rice because I can’t tell what any of the meat is. When we sit back down at our table, a waiter comes over with meat on a stick. He asks her if she would like some. She says yes. He then proceeds to empty out half the stick onto her plate.
After our waiter walks away, I ask her what the meat is. Her response? Chicken Hearts. Like hearts from a chicken. I’ve eat chicken fingers and never thought twice about it, but for some reason a chicken heart just seems so…raw. I’m clearly freaked out by the idea of eating it. Which of course just encourages her to force me to try it. She’s like “you can’t come here and not eat the chicken hearts” and I’m like “Umm, watch me?”.
Finally I give in and say I’ll try one. I’m in a new country, I should be trying new things. Also, I don’t want to look like a pussy in front of the girl I just slept with. So I grab my fork and pick one up. They’re pretty tiny, you can eat a whole one in just one bite. I’m expecting to throw up the second it hits my mouth, but it’s actually….kinda OK? It mostly tastes like garlic. Because it’s fucking covered in garlic. Honestly, if she hadn’t told me what it was, and I thought it was just a strange chicken nugget, I might have eaten another one. But just knowing that it’s a chicken heart freaked me out too much to go back for more. I also feel as though the mall food court is not the ideal place to try new, exotic foods. I’m sure if you try a chicken heart at an actual restaurant, it will be even better.
After the mall, we parted ways at the train station. We tried to get together over the weekend, but she was busy Friday and I was busy Saturday. So we never saw each other again! I left Portugal a month later to continue traveling. And I never ate a chicken heart again.