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Monday, November 11, 2013

Notes: Fried chicken, trans fats ban, and more

Linton Hopkins
I'm playing catch-up with some links I've recorded but not posted in the last few months.

The most Southern link, which turns out not to be so Southern, is back from an August 30 Wall Street Journal article entitled "Why We Can't Get Enough Fried Chicken." It includes an interview with Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and mentions versions by Ford Fry at JCT. Kitchen (including Fry's recipe) and Asha Gomez at Cardamom Hill.

Writer Josh Ozerky, who calls fried chicken this year's "it dish," includes both Hopkins' and Fry's chicken on his list of 11 favorites, describing them this way:

Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta: A mind-bending chicken cooked in a cocktail of savory animal fats.

JCT. Kitchen & Bar, Atlanta: Stripped-down, urbane, brilliant.

Now, here's a catty observation, but still...The WSJ piece came out almost a year to the day after Jennifer Zyman penned a piece for the AJC, "Hot Fried Chicken." True, Ozerky's piece was more general, but he did strongly stress the trend toward spicy-hot chicken, including the Korean versions, common in Atlanta now. You need to read both articles to get a good overview. (Jennifer also wrote a piece for CL about Korean fried chicken in 2008, about the time it began its surge.)

Ozerky's article has one omission history-wise. It doesn't mention Scott Peacock, former chef at Watershed, whose chicken is legendary. True, he's not in the restaurant biz these days, but how can you write about the resurgence of fried chicken without mentioning him and his mentor, Edna Lewis?

Ozerky's article includes one observation that always annoys me. He mentions the awful trend toward chicken fried off the bone. That, which Peacock used to complain about too, completely ignores that the bone adds flavor.

Ozersky writes that his list of favorites is "completely subjective, and maybe even somewhat capricious." Let's not forget that this is the same newspaper that called the Ghetto Burger at Ann's Snack Bar the best in the country - and then described a burger that wasn't the Ghetto Burger.

Captain Smollett and Long John Silver debate use of trans fats
  • Treasure Island/wikimedia commons
  • Captain Smollett and Long John Silver debate use of trans fats
FDA likely to ban all trans fats

The FDA is on the verge of banning the use of truly poisonous trans fats. Most fast-food restaurants have eliminated or significantly cut use of trans fats in recent years. An exception was Long John Silver's, whose Big Catch meal was declared the "Most Unhealthy Meal in America" by the Center for Science in the Public Interest earlier this year. The meal, which has since been removed from the menu, contained "33 grams of trans fats and 3,700 milligrams of sodium," according to the CSPI.

Long John Silver's has promised to eliminate the fats in all of their restaurants by the end of the year. Church's fried chicken still contains significant trans fats while my beloved Popeyes' food is mainly trans-free, except for its Cajun fries.

Poisonous apples and worn-out chefs

EatLocalGrown.com recently published a list of "Eight Foods that Food Experts Won't Eat." The list includes, among others, popcorn, canned tomatoes, and "conventional apples." The latter taboo pains me. I eat at least one apple a day, as the famous bromide prescribes, and I have never tasted an organic apple that I really liked. Fuji apples, my favorites, are coming in now and I'm gonna endure poison for sweet, crunchy, tangy pleasure ...

The most common complaint I hear from servers and chefs is the physical strain of their work. It's worse than I ever thought, according to the New York Times.

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