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Mock chicken legs: a non-chicken kitchen creation -- and apparently a school cafeteria delicacy.
Mock chicken legs: a non-chicken kitchen creation -- and apparently a school cafeteria delicacy.

A Milwaukee kitchen "mock"-up

Just when I thought chicken was destined to be chicken again after the whole pink slime chicken nugget controversy, I stumbled across a tweet from the official Milwaukee Public Schools Twitter account proclaiming the lunch menu for Thursday, April 25, 2012: "What's for lunch today? Mock chicken leg, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, whole grain roll, chilled pears & grapes and milk."

What in the hot lunch tarnation is "mock chicken leg" and why are we serving it to school children?

I posed that very question via Twitter to @MilwaukeeMPS only to get this response: "@LindsayGarric Mock Chicken Leg is one of the most popular lunch items!"

OK. It may be popular, but what IS it? And should we be serving it to kids?

I Googled "What is mock chicken leg" only to find out that this delicacy may be a culinary colloquialism defined by as:

1. A favorite food of kids in the Milwaukee Public School System (MPS) and a Milwaukee classic! Pork shaped into a form kind of resembling a chicken drumstick, but really flat, coated, and fried.

2. Yummy breaded, fried, processed pork product served to school-age children to make them big, strong Brewer fans.

3. Never pronounced clearly: (Mahchikinleg). Best hot lunch ever.

4. Something can't get enough of.

How have I been oblivious to this obvious delicacy for almost 36 years?

I'm not going to waste time pissing off a bunch of people by going in to how this particular hot lunch item is most likely high in saturated fat and chock full of processed proteins and carbs not fit for human consumption – let alone an item we should be giving our students at school as fuel for their academic pursuits. Instead I am embracing the curiosity within me to get my hands on some mock chicken leg.

Who's cooking?

Is there a separate compartment where I can check the kids?
Is there a separate compartment where I can check the kids?

Baby on board

I've been in a major travel pattern of late – even more than usual for this state-hopping frequent flier. So, when I boarded a very full flight headed eastbound and down only to be situated right behind a beautiful, young mother traveling with her 1-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl, I braced myself for an eventful few hours.

Now before I get going, I will say that I admire this woman's will and fortitude in even attempting to voyage with two tots. I could never do it ... and give her kudos for a job mostly well done.

But, here's where the mostly comes in.

I noticed this family before even boarding the plane ... at the gate. I was chatting with a fellow traveler and noticed something scurrying along the (what I am assuming is a germ-riddled, filthy) floor. I thought perhaps a cat was loose in the terminal. No, this was not a feline on the prowl – it was a 1-year-old child, crawling about on his own, cruising the area solo-style, mom yards away barely noticing her other tot, still a wobbly walker, checking out anything and everything in reach.

And then, I was seated on board right behind them.

The flight began with the younger one screaming an aria of distress for 25 minutes. I related to how he must have felt and almost broke out in my own bawling song in reaction to being trapped in this tube of recycled oxygen in behind this small package with a huge set of pipes. I don't usually drink and fly, but the blood-curdling screams emitted from this pint-sized human almost drove me to start.

He then calmed down for a bit of a nap and mommy decided to put on a movie for the little girl – without headphones. She set up the DVD player on the fold-out tray table and then blasted the sound so every passenger within a 10-row distance could also enjoy Disney's latest animated adventure.

While the entertainment was streaming, mom decided to do a full-on deep clean of all of her belongings and later the small one's rear-end, right in the aisle. I watched with fascinat…