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Fried Chicken: An American Story Hardcover – October 7, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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My Halal Kitchen: Global Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Lifestyle Inspiration by Yvonne Maffei
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Editorial Reviews

From 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this first volume of a projected series covering essential American dishes, Southern food expert Edge addresses fried chicken. Although fried chicken has deep roots in American cultural history, few people today have tasted the real thing. Nowadays, Americans drive to the nearest outlet to get a bucket of their extra-crispy bird. Edge has traveled the length of the country and has found that there are still cooks who proudly fry chicken in their out-of-the-way restaurants according to traditional methods. Edge's text dwells on both the history and sociology of fried chicken, its popularity on both sides of the South's racial divide, and its variations among ethnic immigrants. Thus, in addition to traditional Southern fried chicken, the author provides recipes for an Italian-inspired chicken, complete with garlic and herbs, and for a Korean-American dish with fiery hot dipping sauce. No recipe is excessively complicated, but deep-frying equipment and skills are rarely standard in American home kitchens. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (October 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399151834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399151835
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Kirkham on April 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
John T. Edge's book "Fried Chicken: An American Story", is the first in a series on iconic american food. And Mr. Edge has hit the heart of this chicken-loving foodie with this one. I hate to admit it, but I can't stop salivating. And I'm yearning to be able to take time off from my work, jump into the car, and head off on a road trip to all of the different places mentioned in his book.

"Fried Chicken" is a quick read, just under 200 pages, and I managed to finish it in under a day. But that's because I couldn't put it down. Mr. Edge's fun and flavor-filled stories about his search for the perfect fried chicken in America had me longing to taste every different take on the classic finger food that he did.

For instance, if I ever get to Chicago, I know there's a visit to Gourmet Fried Chicken on Cermak Road in my future. Mr. Edge's recounting of his visit there and his meeting with the owner, Chef Luciano, gives me reason to stop by and try the fare. Ditto Sam Lee's Chicken Valley at the Pike Street Market in Seattle, and four different places in the small town of Barberton, Ohio. Perhaps I'll take a quick road trip there next time I get out to visit my mother in Ohio. And every other hotel, bistro, or fast food restaurant Mr. Edge speaks of would, if it were possible, be getting a visit from me in the near future.

Edge also includes, as the book jacket indicates, the "essential recipes" from each of his road stories, either the exact one from one of the eateries or his own close approximation, for those times when the cooks behind the chickens therein wouldn't give up all of their secrets. And Edge has thoughtfully included an appendix listing the best places to each chicken, complete with addresses and telephone numbers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Edge's book is a must read for anyone who is interested in studying American culture through its food. Written in a New Yorker magazine style, he profiles the full range of culinary masters that create succulent chicken coast to coast. If the rest of the series of books that he is writing on everything from apple pie to burgers to fries is this good, I will purchase them all. This is the best of American food writing. You will not be able to put it down! Buy it before the sun sets tonight.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of food book I really enjoy. It is writing about food, and does provide recipes that you can try on your own, but its real delight comes from writing about the people who made those recipes and whose life is about making really good food. And the writer needs to be able to write skillfully enough to enable to reader to taste that food along with him.

John T. Edge does a great job in this little book. He takes a dish we all think we know and uses what he calls its iconic status to show how such a common dish is really a window into the larger and more diverse culture. It can't help being adapted to local conditions and tastes or from the points of origin of the fry cook. In this book he takes us all around the country. We get to go to a Church Social, meet with legendary chicken chefs, go to famous chicken joints. Edge shows us chicken straight up, with varying degrees of spice, with flavors of Asia, Europe, and several South of the Border.

All the while, the author ties it in to various aspects of all the cultures involved and how it has all melded into America. He never loses sight of the fact that this dish had slavery as one of its points of origin. There is a fascinating account of how newly freed women slaves would fry up chicken and wait by the train stations to sell it to hungry (and often smoke ash covered) passengers. This culture kept on for quite awhile and recipes and cooking methods were jealously guarded.

If you love food and enjoy reading about food and culture, you will get a lot from this delightful book. I was fortunate to attend a chicken dinner with the author at Zingerman's Roadhouse here in Ann Arbor, MI last week. I could never have imagined the broad range of tastes I was fortunate to experience from Fried Chicken. Mr. Edge was a most interesting speaker and a very friendly gentleman.

Enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book about three years ago and placed it neatly in my shelf to age gracefully. Recently, I picked it up while cleaning the same shelf and started to read and wondered why I hadn't done so three years ago. This chicken book by John T. Edge is humorous, frivolous, enthusiastic and yes ... has some great basic recipes for various fried chickens from many parts of America and even Korea (Korean Fried Chicken) that is lately getting some attention in pockets of the USA. It is easy to read in one long afternoon and the recipes can be kept for your future fried chicken recipes.
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My man! John T Edge's book is terrific. When I started work on my fried chicken blog at bloogspot, this is the book that I cooked my way through. I loved all of the recipes. Though I was able to develop a better version of Gus's Fried Chicken and Pollo Campero style chicken, his are also very very good.
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John T. Edge is a character and it shows in his writing. His American foods books are short, sweet and colorful fun. I highly recommend any of his books. This book explores many types of fried chicken (Asian especially) that I haven't really had much exposure too. WARNING: This book will make you salivate at some point.
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