Monday, July 21, 2008

A Chicken Frying Failure

We were reminiscing last night about some of my early culinary mishaps when Hank and I first got married. I still cannot fry "real" chicken...that is, chicken on the bone. Over the years I've learned to do pretty well with chicken tenders...soak them in Texas Pete, shake them up in self rising flour with some salt and pepper, fry them in the deep fryer until nice and golden brown. Yummmmmmmmy! They are one of Legare's favorites.

I don't like to think that I've ever been a disappointment to anyone, save a nice sweet lowcountry grandma...not my own, thank goodness. WAY back in the day when I was a fresh-faced newly married 21 year old first year high school music teacher, one of my students, a great big football player named Abe, overheard me lamenting to another teacher that I just could NOT fry chicken to save my life. On my first attempt, I had dredged it in corn meal (a la fried fish) rather than flour, and bless Hank's sweet heart, he tried to eat it, but it was scorched on the outside and raw in the middle. I'd seen the error of my ways regarding the corn meal, but dredging it in flour didn't produce any better result. The next time it was done in the middle and soggy on the outside.

It had never occured to Abe that a grown woman might not be able to fry chicken and this new information troubled him. He showed up the next morning (a Friday) with instructions from his grandmama written down in pencil on paper yanked out of a spiral notebook. His expectation, and hers as well, was that I would practice over the weekend and report back on Monday morning. I was young and used to following instructions from my elders so I did just that. If we'd had a smoak alarm back then, which we didn't, it would have gone off twice. When I messed it up on Saturday morning for the first time, I went back to the grocery store and started all over again on Sunday. It was sad...I wanted to cry...How was I going to report back to Abe and his grandma that I had failed?!

Abe was at my door before school started on Monday morning for a full report. He shook his head in disappointment as I spared not a single detail of my efforts...there was no denying that I was a Chicken Frying Failure. On Tuesday morning, there was a message in my box to call Abe's grandma. She made me recount my process step by step and told me to try again. My report on Wednesday was no better. On Thursday afternoon, she showed up in the office with a tin plate of fried chicken (still to this day the best I've ever had) for Hank's supper. She had rallied the troops and another grandma was there with a macaroni pie...the school secretary brought broccoli casserole and the custodian's wife sent a banana pudding. They were afraid that Hank was starving. I eventually mastered the macaroni pie, broccoli casserole and banana pudding, but I remain, to this day, a REAL Chicken Frying Failure. Thank goodness for chicken tenders.

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