Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Pigskins, Pickin' and Crying in Nashville

Well, did you get your fill of hype and football yesterday? Or better yet, did you get your fill of great food?   I have often thought that the real function of the Super Bowl was (aside from a few psychotic folk) an enabler for people to get together, have appropriate food (which must include something orange) and enjoy each other’s company.  The game itself is secondary (IMHO) to the opportunity to have a social gathering.   Some of my favorite memories of “the game” involve not the sport (who’s playing again?) but the chance to have fun and eat food like Jambalaya and Gumbo.

In a bit of variance to what I just said, I am a bit confused over all the Social Media postings like “what a boring game” and “a waste of my time”.  Another symptom of the seemingly insatiable American belief of: “the higher the score, the better the game”.  They should be watching the NBA, and the three-point festival that the league has turned in to.  Certainly there is no wonder at the lack of popularity of (European) Football/Soccer in this country. 

Lastly, I somewhat also understand and appreciate the sentiment of the NOLA Saint’s faithful, but seems to me boycotting the event is a bit much.  Despite sentiments running high, I do not believe their team was entitled to win the NFC championship.  Certainly the “no-call” as it has become to be named, was a factor but there were other opportunities after that incident. 

Our celebration (food) included simple yet appropriate fare, a Jambalaya

And a "riff" on a Southern Classic, Red Jezebel:

The true classic Jezebel would include club crackers, but being the culinary adventurer I am, I exchanged those for Ritz, with the circular shape echoing the similar form of the red pepper jelly…. In reality I didn’t have any club crackers!

Enough.  March Madness is just around the corner.. End of what (kind of unintentionally) turned into a rant.

Let’s chat a bit more about food, more specifically: “regional food”, dishes that are kind of associated with geographical locations.  Barbeq/cue is the typical example that leaps to mind, with all the regional variations found in the meats, sauces, preps, and so on.  One such category that I knew existed, but not much about was “Nashville Hot Chicken”.  Well, the February 4th edition of The New Yorker had an article called “Letter From Nashville” providing 6 pages of three column text relating all anybody would want to know about Nashville Hot Chicken which has now achieved cult status.  The Prince Family is accredited with the genesis of it, and eventually led to their (legendary) restaurant: “Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack”.
The current owner is André Prince Jeffries

Like several foods that (inadvertantly?) turned into classics (Reuben sandwiches, "Buffalo" Chicken Wings) there is a story behind the genesis of Nashville Hot Chicken.  According to Prince family history:

“Andrés great uncle Thornton Prince III, was a (sic) handsome pig farmer and fond of women.  One Saturday night, he dragged home late, angering his girlfriend.  The next day Prince asked her to make his favorite food, fried chicken.  The girlfriend complied, but with a furious twist: she saturated the bird in Cayenne and other spices.” 

No doubt, Prince was expected to suffer, and he did, but he also enjoyed the experience.  He began replicating the spicy fried chicken and selling it on weekends, out of his home, and eventually opened a small restaurant, the BBQ Chicken Shack, which became beloved in the black community. 

When he died in 1960, the restaurant got passed around to various relatives, eventually landing with the granddaughter of one of his brothers, Jeffries.  She made improvements, and installed the “heat guide” allowing customers to choose from: plain; mild; medium; hot; Xhot; and XXXHot.  Stories abound about people like Sean Brock and (the late) Anthony Bourdain, trying XXXHot Chicken, and of course it today’s technology there are YouTube videos of the experience.

It is always served on two slices of white bread with a short stack of dill pickle chips held in place by a toothpick.

The (prestigious) James Beard Foundation gave the restaurant its America’s Classics award, which honors “timeless” establishments serving “quality food that reflects the character of its community”.   Alert readers just may, think about some parallels between the Beard’s concept and the Feeder’s “Just Right” designation.

Since the reputation and cult following of Nashville Hot Chicken has spread, “imitators” abound:  400 Degrees; Bolton’s; Hattie B’s; Helen’s Hot Chicken; Pepper Fire to name a few.  A few are expanding into becoming a Mini-Chain.
The original location of Prince’s suffered a fire in late December that still has the original Ewing Drive location closed, but their other location on Nolansville Pike is open.  It is slightly bigger than the original shack, and apparently has a slightly expanded menu.

The recipe for the original spice blend is a closely held secret, no cameras allowed, the kitchen is walled off from the eating area, etc.  Of course good old YouTUbe has multiple videos proclaiming to show how it is made..  Have not looked.

Anyway, if any of the loyal readers have experienced Nashville Hot Chicken in some form, let the Feeder know.  With his sensitive institution, it is highly unlikely he will never personally experience the dish..

According to some stories, DFD for eating the XXXHot might include a change of undergarments..just a sartorial hint about

And I earnestly hope they eschew MJ

Friday, February 1, 2019

Hello spring (?)

Kind of a gentle snow today, so what do you do?  You get your camera and fool around.  So no food content with this quick edition, although one is in work, but not ready for prime time.   MFO’s New Yorker often has food content (plus a weekly restaurant review, of some NYC restaurant), and there is an interesting article I’m plowing through.  The trouble is with the New Yorker is that while they have in depth coverage of any subject, that translates to many pages of three column information.   TMI as they say…  The Washington Post kind of suffers the same malady.   After a while you say: yeah, yeah, yeah, and either abandon the effort or put a bookmark on the page which is what I did in the case of the New Yorker.

Anyway, I took a couple of shots out the window, there was Mr. Basil plant rooting (pun intended) for spring… thought it was kind of a nice juxtaposition..

Something to do on a quiet snowy day..

And despite my melancholy sort of mood, I gotta say:


and tomorrow we get Punxsutawney Phil's Prognostication if we will get perpetual winter....