( Originally Published 1916 )
WHAT are we coming to? Whither are we drifting? And oh, times and oh, manners!
The chief high worshipful of the United States Food Research Department, Mary E. Pennington, now takes the stand and deposes that FRIED CHICKEN is bad for us. That is to say, fried chicken that is fresh killed.
She withdraws her objection provided that the fowl "after being killed be kept in dry, cold air for twenty-four hours while the flesh loses its heat. Then it should be ripened from three to ten days in a temperature of 32 degrees. Then," she says, "your chicken will be fit for cooking and eating."
This, of course, is prohibitive. Few farms and families have cold-storage houses. The plan in operation since the days of Adam is to send one of the boys out into the yard to chase the de-voted pullet seven times around the barn, finally to sit on it, and then wring its neck. Shortly after this the hired girl dresses it, and ere the sun sets it is on the table bringing joy and gladness to the inwards of the family.
I cannot get over the conviction that these scientific people are set upon robbing us of our most delectable things to eat. Naturally we would not strike a woman, but why does the Pennington lady attack us at the very core and citadel of our national gustatory treasure?
For, I put it to the reader as man to man, was any dish ever so downright, plum GOOD as fried chicken?
All other forms of preparing the fowl fade into drabness beside this. Roast chicken, baked chicken, smothered chicken, fricasseed chicken, stewed chicken, pressed chicken, and devilled chicken—I take my stand with regulation southern fried chicken against them, one and all.
Not jointed with the meataxe, after the manner of restaurants, but with all the joints separated carefully where the Creator made them, then rolled in flour and put into a skillet of lard and turned faithfully until a golden brown. Then pile the pieces high on the platter before dad, and have all the Browns and Robinsons to dinner, and plenty of real gravy and mashed potatoes, and I, for one, don't care what becomes of me.
I have eaten the vaunted delicacies of the Old World and of the New; I have eaten bouillabaisse at Marseilles, goulash at Vienna, paprika schnitzel at Munich, goose liver pie at Strasburg, sole at Marguery's in Paris, whitebait at Greenwich, beans in Boston, and oysters at Baltimore; but above them all FRIED CHICKEN, when turned out by the deft hands of a real Negro mammy, has, in the language of an ex-president, got them all beat to a frazzle.
All Americans should rally to repel this invasion of our most sacred institution. Alas ! the Philistines are upon us. In what hotel or restaurant can you get old-fashioned fried chicken and gravy? Where in Europe can you find it? They know it not. Ask for it and the waiter looks at you as if he thought you were toying with him.
Hence to arms! If we must lose all our palladiums and historic institutions let us go down like heroes, with the banner of "FRIED CHICKEN" nailed to the mast.