Fried Chicken: An American Story

Fried Chicken: An American Story

4.8 6
by John T. Edge
     
 

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What could be a more fun and delicious way to celebrate American culture than through the lore of our favorite foods? That's what John T. Edge does in his smart, witty, and compulsively readable new series on the dishes everyone thinks their mom made best. If these are the best-loved American foods-ones so popular they've come to represent us-what does that tell us

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Overview

What could be a more fun and delicious way to celebrate American culture than through the lore of our favorite foods? That's what John T. Edge does in his smart, witty, and compulsively readable new series on the dishes everyone thinks their mom made best. If these are the best-loved American foods-ones so popular they've come to represent us-what does that tell us about ourselves? And what do the history of the dish and the regional variations reveal?

There are few aspects of life that carry more emotional weight and symbolism than food, and in writing about our food icons, Edge gives us a warm and wonderful portrait of America -by way of our taste buds. After all, "What is patriotism, but nostalgia for the foods of our youth?" as a Chinese philosopher once asked.

In Fried Chicken, Edge tells an immensely entertaining tale of a beloved dish with a rich history. Freed slaves cooked it to sell through the windows of train cars from railroad platforms in whistle-stop towns. Children carried it in shoe boxes on long journeys. A picnic basket isn't complete without it. It is a dish that is deeply Southern, and yet it is cooked passionately across the country. And what about the variations? John T. Edge weaves a beguiling tapestry of food and culture as he takes us from a Jersey Shore hotel to a Kansas City roadhouse, from the original Buffalo wings to KFC, from Nashville Hot Chicken to haute fried chicken at a genteel Southern inn. And, best of all, he gives us fifteen of the ultimate recipes along the way.

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Editorial Reviews

Tobin Henshaw
John T. Edge, a veteran food writer, spent the better part of a year debunking one of the South's most persistent myths, that ''to know about fried chicken, you have to have been weaned and reared on it in the South.'' In Fried Chicken: An American Story, the first in a series of books that will celebrate ''America's iconic foods,'' he's fairly successful, thanks largely to some strategically placed Serbs (in Ohio), Koreans (in Seattle), buttermilk enthusiasts (in Los Angeles) and -- gasp -- wing nuts (in Buffalo).
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Why did the chicken cross the continent? To get to the buttermilk-bathed, Creole-fried, mojo-marinated recipes, of course. Edge (A Gracious Plenty) directs Ole Miss's Southern Foodways Alliance, which studies the South's diverse food cultures, and he dishes up a combo plate of cookbook/travelogue, describing stopovers on his poultry pilgrimage across America, tasting and testing. His quest took him from New Orleans to Nashville (the "fiery goodness" of Prince's Hot Chicken Shack) and from L.A. to Buffalo (home of Buffalo wings). He focuses on individual cooks and family-run enterprises, so KFC and other chains get scant space. Instead, chapters close with regional recipes (e.g., Cape May's Onion-Fried Shore Chicken). Fryer facts flow like gravy, along with pop culture references, and there's an outstanding chapter recounting how celebrated Creole-Soul cook Austin Leslie inspired the Emmy-winning CBS series Frank's Place (1987). Edge concludes that the top dishes are found "where the cooks monkey the most with the birds." Throughout, he shares evocative descriptions of people and places, and designer Stephanie Huntwork's attractive gingham graphics and place-mat pages add a down-home feel. This clever, witty little book offers a heaping helping of chicken facts, and the appendix listing 34 "favorite chicken houses" in 14 states is a fitting finale. Agent, David Black. (Oct. 11) FYI: Putnam will simultaneously publish Edge's Apple Pie. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Follow food writer Edge, whose work has been featured in Gourmet and Saveur magazines, as he eats his way across the United States in a charming new series that "celebrates America's iconic foods." Part travelog, part cookbook, part social history, and part lore, these first two entries explore the origins of fried chicken and apple pie and their importance in American culture. Through visits to local restaurants, festivals, and farm stands, Edge met cooks and bakers who shared their secrets and provided stories and recipes about these foods that are rich in American tradition. A Southerner, he looks past his region for an explanation of our connections to certain foods; in Fried Chicken, he examines traditional preparation while exploring the fried chicken that recent immigrants prepare, such as Italian American fried chicken courtesy of an Indian immigrant living in Chicago and Serbian American fried chicken prepared in Ohio. In Apple Pie, he travels across the country, collecting 15 recipes for pie along the way-all of which are included. Forthcoming titles in this series include Donuts, Hamburgers, and French Fries. Witty and entertaining, these two volumes are highly recommended.-Pauline Baughman, Multnomah Cty. Lib., Portland, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399151835
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
10/07/2004
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.77(d)
Lexile:
1300L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 - 14 Years

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What People are saying about this

Lee Smith
John T. Edge is pure fun-with his great sense of humor, insatiable enthusiasm, original insights and careful commentary, he's one of the world's best companions. I'd run off with him anytime.
New York Times bestelling author of The Last Girls and Saving Grace
Rick Bragg
Edge takes one of my favorite subjects on earth and writes the extra-crispy hell out of it. ... He makes me wish he'd been along for the ride in his reporting. As always, it is the way he welds the food to the cooks, to their life experiences and homeplaces, that makes this book a wonderful read.
New York Times bestselling author of All Over But the Shoutin', and Ava's Man
Tyler Florence
John T. is the voice of contemporary southern food. His work... is like Ken Burns efforts to preserve the tradition of baseball through his documentaries or Steven Spielberg's efforts to remember the Holocaust through his movies.
Jeffrey Steingarten
John T. Edge is among our finest... I've been waiting for this series... knowing that my kitchen will soon be humming, my mind buzzing, and my pleasure glands uncontrollably salivating.
New York Times bestselling author of The Man Who Ate Everything
Jennifer
We've just gotten in two more great quotes for John T. Edge; I'm also including the ones we had already so that you have them all in one place.

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