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My faux-vegetarian friend will only eat grain-fed chicken

One of my friends has an insufferable husband who has claimed to be a vegetarian for as long as I've known them, but who eats meat sometimes when nobody's looking - my friend has told me as much. Yet for all these years, I've bent over backward to cook vegetarian when they come over.

Now her hellish hubby concedes he'll eat chicken at my house, but only if it's free-range and naturally raised. Can I just serve grocery-store stuff and lie about where I got it?

You should serve the cheapest, skankiest, most 'roid-pumped, extra clarithromycin-basted, choice-grade, just-touching-it-will-probably-give-you-scabies discount-grocery-store bird that $1.97 can buy, then - just as your buddy's faux-hippie husband takes his first, hysterically hypocritical bite - mention that you got it from a new "artisanal" producer called Bucolic Pharms.

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At least that's what I usually do. But once you've got that out of your system (your sweet revenge, I mean - those hormones will probably last forever), you should treat yourself to a decent chicken some time. Even the poshest poultry doesn't cost that much when you think about it: A $20, grain-fed, free-range roaster feeds four people and tastes infinitely denser, meatier and, well, more chicken-y than the supermarket stuff. Just remember to rain kosher salt over top of it before you roast it - under-seasoned roast chicken is a crime.

Chris Nuttall-Smith is a food writer and restaurant columnist. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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