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.
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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 KnoblauchCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved