Let us now praise famous hen

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 3:45am

Crispy. Juicy. Flammable. With eyes tearing and taste buds ablaze, let us pay homage to hot chicken.

The Philistines in Buffalo need sauce to set their pullets aflame. In Nashville, all it takes is a cast iron skillet and … um … cayenne? Red pepper? Wizardry?

Perhaps the magic is in the dish’s nefarious origins. One version of the story goes that Thornton Prince, the store’s namesake, was under suspicion of tomcattery. To punish his philandering, his girlfriend rubbed his fried chicken with the hottest spices she could find. Mr. Prince — who maintained his innocence, by the way — loved what she created.

Wherever the flavor comes from, the folks at Prince’s, Bolton’s, 400 Degrees and The Chicken Shack keep it to themselves.

Despite being a touchstone of the city’s food culture, hot chicken is rarely offered at more than three or four places.

At Prince’s, they’ll shoo you away if you loiter too long at the ordering window. The cooks disappear from view at the moment when mere chicken becomes local legend.

While we may not know the secret of spicing the bird, we know the secrets to eating it: Drink lemonade, not soda. Don’t touch your eyes. The bread and pickles are there for a reason. Use them judiciously.

And allow plenty of time for the magicians to work — nothing this good comes quickly.

Nashville’s high herald of heated hen is former Mayor Bill Purcell, a man who allegedly ate a hot leg quarter from Prince’s every day he was in office. Sure, Karl Dean is going build a convention center, but can he pull off a Purcellian lunchtime feat?

In 2007, Purcell started what has become an Independence Day staple: the Hot Chicken Festival. Folks line up at the tents in East Park long before noon to get the free samples. Those not among the first 500 can buy bird for $5 a plate.

The festival, which runs until 5 p.m., also includes entertainment, food options for the faint of heart, an amateur cooking contest and — thankfully for what’s sure to be a hot day — Yazoo beer.


10 Comments on this post:

By: 742180 on 6/29/10 at 7:57

Ummmm?? FREE Chicken...East Park...Let me guess what that line will look like. A person could and probably will get killed trying to break that line. Throw in watermelon and it would be a full scale riot.

By: MamaG on 6/29/10 at 9:20

Guard the henhouse! A racist pig has escaped the loony bin today!!!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 6/29/10 at 9:29

i agree, Mama. Let's roast the pig!

By: Loner on 6/29/10 at 9:45

I hope that His Honor, Mayor Purcell, has an industrial-grade lower intestinal tract.

In the Buffalo area, veteran wing men are now experiencing sphincter "blow outs". Similar to the Deep Horizon effect, the gusher is tough to plug, according to knowledgeable sources in the Buffalo area.

Thought I'd throw that in as a public service announcement. Oh yeah, those Tucks pads are a good thing to take along when attending a hot chicken festival. Don't forget the Tums.

742180, do you have a rebel flag on display? We appreciate it when folks like you identify themselves by flying the banner of white supremacy.

By: BenDover on 6/29/10 at 9:45

There's a bit of truth in every stereotype, I guess; but that's a pretty crude expression of it, 742180.

I'll respond with a bit of deprecation and humility for myself and my race:

What, sir, is 10 inches long and white?

By: Loner on 6/29/10 at 9:47

Well said, Ben.

By: AmyLiorate on 6/29/10 at 10:07

If 742180 has any CSA flag then please remove it promptly.

People with comments like that aren't worthy.

By: Loner on 6/29/10 at 12:17

People like our 742180 poster aren't worthy of displaying the banner of infamous white supremacy and treason?

Aw, come on Amy, they are worthy of the shame and contempt associated with that hate logo. There was no glory in the confederate casus belli. Check the Confederate Constitution....again.

Neo-Nazis are also shame worthy, when they display the swastika. Jews won't tolerate that crap here in America and blacks should not have to tolerate that sort of intimidation either.

Holding the torch for the CSA just does not cut it in mainstream America today. Douse the flame and move on.

By: PKVol on 6/29/10 at 3:54

If you want to make the Confederate Flag a symbol of hate, go right ahead, but just because you or someone else has done so, doesn't make it a sign of hate.

If it is that easy to do, then the LA Kings jerseys of the 1990's is a hate symbol because many members of a certain gang wore them.

See you can't just 'create hate' out of a symbol, hate comes from the heart.

By: Loner on 6/29/10 at 6:27

PK Vol, you are an ignoramous of the first order.

When the best and brightest of the Southern boys went off to fight for white supremacy, only the mentally and physically unfit were left behind, to regenerate the post-war South.

The result is an inferior Southern gene pool, and you, PKVol are the product of that cesspool of degraded genetic material. Squeal like a pig and bang that banjo, ypu slackjawed cracker boy!