Thursday, April 12, 2007
With Chicken Comes Wisdom
Yesterday I was in the mood for fried chicken. It's a mood that doesn't come over me as often as it used to. That may be because of the disappointing quality of most commercially available fried chicken. In fact, it is a matter of public record (it might even be on Wikipedia) that I believe KFC causes diarrhea. ( I wonder if KFC deliberately creates that effect in order to get people to come back to their restaurants? If so, then I would suggest they try a different marketing strategy.) Anyhow, I was encouraged by a coworker to try a fried chicken franchise I had not tried before. He said it was the best of them all. I won't name this particular restaurant chain, but I will say that it is named after a comic strip character with large forearms.
So, up to the drive-through window I drove, with my watering mouth, empty stomach, and high expectations. I ordered the number 3, which includes three pieces of chicken and one side dish and biscuit. I parked my car and proceeded to dig in. It's not really a great idea to eat a fried chicken dinner in one's car, for a number of reasons, including the fact that the yellow oleo substitute which is meant to be slathered on the biscuit could inadvertantly squirt out of its package and soil the dashboard, but I was listening to the radio. (I just had to get the latest, up-to-the-minute information about the Don Imus Affair. I only wish the radio updates were every 30 seconds instead of every 30 minutes.)
Well, right off the bat I noticed that the chicken pieces were quite small. That seems to be the norm at all chicken take-out joints anymore. I think they all get their chickens from the same midget chicken ranch in Arkansas. (I still remember the old days when drumsticks were longer than two and half inches long, don't you? Or is it just another of my false memories? If this shrinking chicken trend continues, I bet that some day we will be able to fit a thousand drumsticks in a space where today only twenty will fit. Think of all the storage space that will be saved.) Another thing I noticed is that the crunchy coating has a strange yellowish tint to it. I have nothing against yellow. Why, nobody admires bananas more than I do. But it just looked a little odd to me. But I figured, big deal, it's all going to be in the dark in a few seconds anyway. So I dug in.
About midway through my first bite, as I chewed the greasy morsel, I realized two things: one, this brand of fried chicken tastes exactly like the chicken served at the competing chicken restaurants, and two, I think this chicken is going to be hard to finish, due to its nausea-inducing quality. But I pressed on, finishing the first, second and third pieces, the mashed potatoes swimming in spicy gravy (which wasn't too bad, actually) and the imitation biscuit, minus the yellow oleo substitute (and a nice clean dashboard I have now, too). I washed it all down with the two inches of Dr. Pepper in a cup full of ice and I drove off-- full, but not really satisfied. And full I stayed for hours. Those midget chicken parts are surprisingly dense. Or am I the one who is dense? I'll let you judge for yourself. But keep in mind that my occasional expeditons into the world of fried chicken are learning experiences, like my occasional trips to White Castle. With each trip to these places, I grow in wisdom, even as my lifespan shortens just a bit.