Whenever Donald Duck or Howard the Duck sneers, we see teeth. Real birds don't have teeth. What birds have instead of teeth are second stomachs with little stones in them.
The first stomach of a bird attacks whatever it has swallowed whole (worm, seed, moth) with acid and enzymes. The second stomach is the next line of attack. It uses muscles and the little stones, which the bird has swallowed for this express purpose (one of the many wonders of evolution), to grind the food. The first stomach is called the proventriculus; the second stomach is called the gizzard. The gizzard does for the bird what teeth do for mammals. We mammals break things down to a manageable pulp and then swallow peacefully. Anyone who has seen, say, gulls swallow, say, a bit of bread tossed to them by, say, some batty old woman on a park bench knows how horribly their throats distend as, with raised beaks and delirious eyes, they choke their food down to the first and second stomachs.
Many humans enjoy eating the second stomach of chickens. They are small, shaped like a peanut, and tough to chew, and they have a little unpleasant tang. But an unpleasant taste does not make something unpleasurable. Recall, as the Marxist David Harvey often does, the story of the bitter taste in beer. In the old days, beer was sweet but soon made undrinkable by the effects of time. When you made beer, you could not store it but had to drink it right away. Hops were introduced to preserve the integrity of beer, to keep it fresh. But hops had a bitterness that displaced the beer's sweetness. At first, drinkers found it disagreeable; eventually, they not only got used to it but learned to love it. These days, chemicals are used to preserve beer, and hops are added only for the bitter taste. So, the little unpleasantness can be the source of pleasure. To quote James Joyce's Ulysses: "Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crust crumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine."
Enrique Peñalosa, one of the greatest urban thinkers of our time and the former mayor of Bogotá, once said that we should see sidewalks not as connected to or a part of the street but as parks. It is precisely this kind of thinking that makes a long stretch of Beacon Avenue one of the best streets in Seattle. From 39th Street all the way up (heading north) to the intersection with Columbian Way, it is a leafy park for cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. After Columbian, the avenue becomes all about cars. Also at this point begins what I like to call Gizzards Way. It starts with the small but packed Filipino grocery store Fou Lee Market—made locally famous by a Blue Scholars track—and ends with the Shell gas station at the point where Beacon Avenue splits with 15th Avenue South. In the middle of the way is the deli in the Red Apple supermarket. In each of these establishments, you will find gizzards under heat lamps.
Let's begin with Fou Lee. The deli, which is squeezed into a tight space next to the checkout area, offers gizzards that have been fried and gizzards that have been prepared with adobo. Never go for the former; always buy the latter. If you've never had gizzard adobo, what you discover is that the vinegar (the defining flavor of this Filipino sauce) makes nothing but music with the toughness and unpleasantness of the chicken's second stomach (pop one in, chew, feel good things, remember good things, think good things, and then swallow). The people at Fou Lee, however, seem to have no idea of how great their adobo gizzards are, as they only offer them randomly—sometimes they are there, often they are not. Whenever I ask if there's any pattern to their disappearance and reappearance (every second Monday of the month? When the moon is full?), the person behind the counter either gives me a confused look or points to the fried gizzards. But one doesn't go to Fou Lee for the fried gizzards, nor does one go to the Red Apple—it's not that its gizzards are bad but, like the organ itself, they are unexceptional (Fou Lee has excellent fried chicken, though, and Red Apple has got the greens). For the real best fried gizzards, you have to go all way to the end of Gizzards Way, to the mart in the Shell.
Here is a review of the Shell gas station that was posted on Google+: "Cashiers are rude. Car wash sucks! Wasted my money on this car wash. I took my car for a car wash after a road trip. All the dead bugs are still on my car after the wash. I even paid for the most expensive wash. The cashiers were rude!!!" This Google user would not have been so negative if they had tried the gizzards! Do not go to this business for the gas or for the cashiers (who, by the way, have never been rude to me) or for the car wash (why do we even wash cars in rainy Seattle?), but for the rich, golden nuggets under the heat lamps. Two dollars already buys you too many of these deeply fried and heavily peppered gizzards. Douse these crunchy and chewy delights with red hot sauce and you will devour them with the speed of a demon. (By the way, gizzards are cheap wherever you go—$3 always buys you more than you need.)
Every time I buy a small plastic bag of gizzards at the Shell gas station, I walk out, look south at Beacon Avenue, and dream of how wonderful it would be if this section of the avenue were more like the park it is before reaching Columbian. Gizzards Way should be made safe for cyclists.