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Chicken and waffles: a discussion

The SUB has been known to serve the occasional (frequent) questionably nutritious dish, yet their Chicken and Waffles selection takes the cake—which is quite possibly a healthier option.  Preferably, chicken or waffles should be mandated—but no, chicken and waffles.  “Why not take two delicious things and combine them?” IHOP’s specialty menu reads.  Of course, the fact that two equally delicious staples in American cuisine exist is no justification to put them together. Lucy Spurlick However, disagrees, saying: “I love the idea of Chicken and Waffles, why not make them one thing?  I can imagine ordering them at the sub just because it’s funny.” Apparently, the frivolity of the dish makes it that much more enticing.

In one report, NPR investigated the origin of Chicken and Waffles, after recent listeners, specifically southern audiences, voiced complaints concerning the history behind the dish.  After being attributed to the creation chicken-waffle combo, comments reading, “I’m a southerner, and I have never heard of fried chicken on a waffle!” were posted on their webpage.  After further inspection, John T. Edge, the director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, observes that the dish is in fact from the south. “It’s a Southern dish, but a Southern dish once or twice removed from the South.”  There are speculations regarding how the recipe was initially concocted (most likely as a joke), yet John T. Edge suggests that the combination was developed in both the East and the West.  In the 1930’s, the combo was a signature offering at Well’s Supper Club. Out in Los Angeles, Roscoe’s chain of soul food restaurants brought chicken and waffles to the Hollywood crowd starting in the 1970s.

“It’s a dish most popular among expatriate, African-American Southerners,” he adds, “a dish most popular among Southerners now living in urban areas, whether that be the urban South or the urban West, in the case of Los Angeles, or the urban North, in the case of New York.”

So is it a breakfast or a dinner thing? John T. Edge says, that there are no rules – except that the chicken should be on the bone. He prefers the dish with dark meat, a drizzle of maple syrup and a hit of Tabasco. Lucy Spurlock thinks otherwise, in saying, “Oh god, I would never throw syrup on Chicken and Waffles.  The chicken has the stronger taste.  I think the sauce should be more savory, not sweet.” Yet then why even add waffle in the first place?  If the sauce is to serve as something that masks the already faint taste waffle, wouldn’t it be easier to leave it out altogether?  But then again, the novelty of the dish is an intriguing order, perhaps even comical.

Chicken and Waffles is the comedy duo of cookery.  It’s the culinary equivalent to Abbott and Costello or perhaps more appropriately Cheech and Chong.  They’re a fantastic performance, but you wouldn’t invite them over for dinner, or indeed as dinner.

Chicken and Waffles is a novelty meal, just as fruitcake or a thanksgiving sandwich might be considered a little; it’s only appropriate to substitute them for an actual meal, per annum, or less.