One Fate Filled Afternoon: Chicken Meatballs

A short story followed by a recipe, both sharing a connection to each other

By Ayla Iqbal

It all happened so fast. One minute I was strolling into a store, merely as a time pass, and the next, I walked out with a cat. It wasn’t even a pet store. I got tired of waiting for my perpetually indecisive brother to make a decision on his birthday present so I left the shoe store and wandered into what can only be described as the local community ‘shop’.

This ‘shop’ was a library/general store/information hall/everything else combined. Notices were plastered all over the walls, one on top of the other, with messages ranging from garage sales to babysitting services to when the astronomy club was meeting next. The slips of paper never seemed to be removed and if you had a spare afternoon and were thoroughly bored out of your mind on what else to do, you could find notices spanning the last 50 or so years.

As soon as I walked in a friend of mine, Zarine, threw herself at me and turned me around. Frantically she started, “Listen, you can’t be in here, I can’t tell you why, but you have to go.” Now, if someone tells you that you cannot be somewhere, even if you have zero interest in being there, you then have to be there. Generally, I could care less about our faux community center, but right now, it was all I cared about. “Zarine, get your hands off of me, and let me IN!” I shouted far more loudly than I should have.

She was attempting to shield me from one of my greatest weaknesses. On this specific afternoon, completely unbeknownst to me, there was a cat adoption drive. As I whipped around and out of her grasp, I saw the hand made sign hovering towards the back of the shop. “CATS FOR ADOPTION”. If I was a cat, a sign like that would be catnip to me.

I knew I had to stay calm and resist the urge. My family barely tolerated my obsession having suffered through years and years of new cats coming through our household. For the last five years, I had been forbidden to enter any pet stores, attend any adoption drives and even merely look at any stray cats. There were two living cats in our house now, Bubbles and Minty. A few months prior, Chickadee, my personal favorite, had passed away at the very respectable age of 17. She was the first kitten I ever brought home when I was six and had been my best friend ever since. It was a hard loss that only those with pets would ever fully understand.

I tried to be rational in my mind. I could just go and take a quick look and walk out immediately. Zarine was with me and I know she wouldn’t let me get away with actually adopting one. I conveyed this to her, pleading with my eyes, and then ultimately guilting her by talking about how much I missed Chickadee. She allowed me to take a quick glance.

Cautiously walking up to the pen, I saw cats of all sizes and ages. My heart started beating rapidly, I could feel the excitement and the desire to squeal thunder deep down. I had to contain myself. Zarine held one of my hands, trying to prevent me to reach down with both hands and grab whatever cat was closest.

There were a group of four kittens, siblings, I assumed, jumping around and playing with each other. Predominately white, with little black spots all scattered around their bodies. In some separate cages, older cats were either sleeping or staring out at the group of humans purring over them. As my eyes flitted from here to there, trying to soak in as much as I could before I got pulled away, I caught sight of one in the far corner.

Strangely, I was drawn to this quiet domestic shorthaired cat, one that looked like any standard street cat. Not that those aren’t as cute as the others, but generally the fluffy cats were the ones that more so caught my attention. Pulling my hand out of Zarine’s grasp, I went up to her cage and introduced myself. Noticing her calm demeanor, I put one finger through her cage to allow her to get closer and take a sniff. Next thing I knew, I was in love. She ever so delicately placed one paw on top of my finger and stared at me with her big green eyes.

One of the volunteers came over and said, “This is Meatball, she’s about three years old and very sweet. She came to us a few months ago after her owner passed away.”

“Meatball?” I replied with a chuckle, “That’s a great name, and weirdly suits her perfectly.”

“I know, it’s actually very fitting as her favorite food is a chicken meatball. Not beef, just chicken.”

“What a coincidence, my favorite food also happens to be chicken meatballs!” With the thought of the two of us curled up in bed, eating meatballs together, I knew she was coming home with me.

Just behind me, I heard Zarine groan and mutter, “Oh great, I better text your mother to say another cat is coming home.”

Next thing we know, I have the cat in hand and I bump into my brother outside of the shoe store. I thrust the cat in front of his face and say, “Meet Meatball, our newest family member.”

I love a good meatball (though I really don’t even like the word meatball), especially in addition to pasta with a fresh tomato sauce. You could eat these meatballs in a number of different scenarios, which makes them versatile and also very easy to make. A few minutes to combine the ingredients together, and then straight into the oven. Hardly gets easier than that for something delicious and homemade.

All the ingredients in one bowl to be combined

500 grams of minced chicken
1 egg
½ cup of breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 220 celsius
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and shape into individuals medium sized balls and place on a lightly oiled baking pan

Shape them and place them on an oiled baking pan

3. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes

4. Remove and eat!


This story is part of a series, which is updated weekly. You can read the previous entry here

For the full story, you can visit the author’s personal website here

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