Here at Texas Chicken and Burgers
, fried chicken is one of our dual culinary masteries
. The mixture of complicated flavor/texture and the down-home, comfort food aspect of fried chicken makes it one of the World’s perennial favorite meals. Here’s a guide to some more unique facts about fried chicken you may not know.
Fried Chicken's Origins in Scotland and Ancient Egypt
Historians give both these peoples credit for inventing fried chicken as we know it today. Between the years 7,500 - 5,000 B.C, wild birds were made domestic throughout Southeast Asia - with documentation of stewed chicken appearing from cultures around the world from that period including the Middle East, West Africa, and China. In ancient Egypt, chicken became such a staple that images of chicken appeared on Pharaoh's tomb. From Egypt, chicken spread to Greece, the remainder of the Mediterranean, and then the British Isles.
Scottish settlers to the United States important fried chicken recipes as we know it, as those people pretend to pan fry chicken in lieu of the typical British boiling or roasting methods.
However, it’s also been speculated that African Slaves forcibly brought to the United States actually invented the method of breading and frying chicken, as there are many traditions of hot oil frying in West Africa that these people may have brought with them to the United States.
Southern Fried Chicken Technique
The first recipe for fried chicken in the United States appeared in the 1825 cookbook ‘the Virginia Housewife, or Methodical Cook.’ The author, a Mary Randolph, ran a boarding house and was in fact, a relative by marriage to Thomas Jefferson! Her cookbook included a fried chicken recipe that called for the poultry to be dredged in flour, sprinkled with salt, and then deep fried (in lard.) This attention and labor intensive cooking method made fried chicken a well-savored treat for special occasions.
Connection to Segregation
Laws governing slaves in the Antebellum South forbade slaves from owning cows and pigs but allowed slaves to own chickens. The subsequent perfection of chicken cookery by enslaved Africans and their immediate descendants - many of whom were forced to cook for white plantation owners - led fried chicken to become a Southern staple food, nearly a cultural phenomenon as much as a recipe.
In the times of the Civil War and it’s aftermath, many African American women in Gordonsville, Virginia sold chicken (as well as other food) to train passengers as a way to make money - harnessing the widespread cultural love for chicken as a method of economic self-determination. Quickly, Gordonsville gained a reputation as the Fried Chicken Capitol of the World.
Fried Chicken as Global Phenomena
Fast food establishments - which Texas Chicken and Burgers stands out among as a beacon of complex flavors and superior freshness - have made fried chicken a worldwide phenomenon. Many cultures globally have put their unique spin on fried chicken, to unique cooking methods, to culturally relevant spices and dipping sauces. Notably, Korean fried chicken is popular - as well as Guatemalan, Indonesian, and Phillipino fried chicken. Fried chicken is particularly ripe culinary ground for food start-ups and entrepreneurship, because it’s a widely versatile dish, readily taking on bold seasoning and flavors - while remaining a crowd-pleasure for millennia, as you’ve learned in this article!!
Bonus Fact - Fried Chicken in American Idioms
You may have heard the phrase “spring chicken,” usually verbally deployed in the context of describing somebody who is older than they appear to be to, ie: “he’s no spring chicken!” This term has its origins in the early 18th century, when chickens born during Spring months could sell at a higher price than chickens born during the Winter. Chickens born in the spring were preferred for frying up as well, due to their superior tenderness. If a chicken buyer received a bird older than they expected, they would exclaim, “that’s no spring chicken!” - hence the idiom was born, along with many of America’s well worn idioms with origins in agricultural culture.