Monday, 9 January 2012

If no-one is around to write about Perfect Fried Chicken, will it have existed?

 One night last year, to charm a customer or to pass the time, a man working here started whistling bird songs.

Mark Twain writes about a whistle that 'consisted in a peculiar bird-like turn, a sort of liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music'. It kind of sounded like that.

Fried chicken joints like this don't often remind me of the Mississippi Delta, but they do make me curious.

London is full of them. American Fried Chicken, Chicky Chicken, Sam's Chicken, Hollywood Fried Chicken, and my favorite for the Gertrude Stein relentlessness of its name: Chicken Chicken Chicken.

Millions of tipsy Londoners have scarfed down their food, thousands must have worked at one, but they go un-reviewed and are invisible online.

Time Out's Cheap Eats doesn't go that cheap, foodbloggers walk on by, they don't get tweeted about or shared on facebook. The Guardian and the Independent ran pieces about them, but as health hazards, not as restaurants.

I want to know why two portions of chicken and chips is always £1.99. Is it the lesser-spotted perfectly competitive market where everyone is a price taker? How long has it been £1.99? Does everywhere use the same recipe? Are some places better than others? Is Tennessee Fried Chicken worth a detour? Is it different North and South of the river? Is there a West London fried chicken style? Why are they so popular now? Why were they so much less popular ten years ago?

One day food fashions will change. These places will vanish like Lyons tea houses did before them and in 2112 a  historian researching an article on 'Fried Chicken Licken: How the sky fell in on early 21st century fast food fashion.' will come across this blog and wish it were more use.

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