Chickening Out

Fit to be Fried

I found this little tidbit to be rather interesting. According to a recent study, a human being will eat about 7,500 animals over the course of a lifetime. That would include roughly 4,500 fish, 2,800 chickens, 80 turkeys, 30 lambs, 27 pigs, 11 cows and a various amount of rabbits, ducks and geese. I imagine you could adjust this number downward quite a bit if you're a member of PETA. You could also add a species or two if you live in West Virginia or your name is Hannibal Lecter.

As you can tell from the list, the chicken is far and away our favorite land animal to eat. That's why very few of them have ever died of natural causes. They spend their brief lives oblivious to the fact that their final resting place will probably be a cardboard bucket. Now although we all know the plight of the chicken, it still remains one of our favorite dishes. And my favorite way to eat it is fried.

It's a common misconception that fried chicken originated in the Deep South of the United States. Fried chicken actually dates back to ancient civilizations in Europe and Asia. Even in medieval times, fried chicken was the "go-to" snack while tossing back a couple of goblets and watching the knights joust. Scottish immigrants are credited with being the ones to introduce fried chicken to America when they settled in the Deep South. (They also decided to lose the kilts just so the Indians would quit laughing at them.) But over the years, other parts of the country started putting their own spin on fried chicken using different seasonings and spices.

Of course these days it's become a fashionable trend to avoid fried foods altogether. The ones that do this are the type of people that would eat a roll of paper towels if it had "gluten free" stamped on it. But sadly, they're also right about fried foods being unhealthy because they raise the levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol in our bloodstreams. Just recently my doctor told me I needed to cut out fried foods. Then we both laughed.

In the coming months, the magazine will feature where you can find the best fried chicken in the area. But I'm pretty sure that all of us had a relative who could also make it pretty well. My mother was good at it, but my daughters are probably even better. Trouble is, they just don't make it often enough. So a few months ago, I decided to try doing it myself. How tough could it be? All you apparently needed was a cast iron skillet, a chicken and a fistful of lard. Right?

Well, the first batch I fried didn't turn out so good. It was so oily that I almost started to frack it. I consulted with my oldest daughter, and she told me it was because the lard wasn't hot enough. So I just turned the stove all the way up, waited a few minutes and then dropped in the second batch. Maybe the chicken was too cold or the lard was too hot, but I couldn't get my windows and doors opened fast enough. All I recall next were sirens and a TV news truck.   

I have finally come to realize that frying chicken is an art. And judging from the looks of my kitchen after my last attempt, I am not a good artist. I best leave that particular talent to the professionals or my daughters. But frying turkey looks fairly simple. Maybe I'll try that around Thanksgiving. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?