Ayam Cemani

A friend of mine says I have a tendency to collect strays. In high school, my crowd was all the outcasts; people who tended to be bullied, rejected, and ignored. People like that are often the most loyal friends you’ll ever have, and, having experienced cruelty themselves, they were usually the kindest people, too. At least that has been my experience.

I have always been drawn to the unique and unusual. I gravitate toward the three-legged dogs of the world. That might also be why I chose bridgetending as a career. Hmmm… That bears further thought.

Having established my tendency to love all things freakish, I give you the Ayam Cemani. If I were breeding chickens, these would be my breed of choice. (Well, except for the fact that they can cost as much as 4,000 dollars each.)

The Ayam Cemani originate in Indonesia. Ayam means “chicken”, and cemani means “thoroughly black”. And when they say thoroughly black, they aren’t kidding. This bird has a dominant gene that causes hyperpigmentation, or fibromelanosis. That means they are black, inside and out. They have black beaks, cones, feathers, skin, tongues, internal organs, and bones. They are genuinely black-hearted. If you are rich enough to actually waste one of these beauties to make dinner, their meat is black, too.

Ayam Cemani blood isn’t black, contrary to popular belief. And oddly enough, they lay cream colored eggs. But because they are so unique, they are the most expensive chickens on earth.

In Central Java, these birds are considered to be magical. They are good luck charms and status symbols. They are used as sacrifices and also in traditional medicine.

One thing is for certain. If I ever met an Ayam Cemani, we’d be friends.

Ayam Cemani

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