15 April 2007

Fried chicken and other delights

I just found the coolest blog: checkthecoolwax.blogspot.com .... if you're as musically warped as I am (read: Nettie, you'll love it), go have a look. It's a delicious tribute to music's dark and lunatic side. Some of the albums he features on the blog have links to where you can download them (except, wisely, those which are available on CD).

This album, for instance. On the way back from our trip to West Virginia, Seraphim and I made a detour to Corbin, Kentucky ... where it all began. There's a KFC museum located in a recreation of the original Sanders Cafe. I must've overlooked it, as this was the first I'd heard of such a recording.

It's nothing but a 'special products' LP, a compilation of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass hits from the '60s - "A Taste of Honey", "The Lonely Bull", "Spanish Flea" ("Bachelor number 3, if I were a three-piece dinner, would you pour your gravy on my mashed potatoes?"), and others.

The liner notes are priceless, and include notes from His Kentuckiness about each track.

COLONEL SANDERS' FAMOUS PICNIC MENU

Buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken

Potato Salad - Baked Beans - Cole Slaw - Bean Salad (who farted?) - Rolls* - Potatoes**


* = Yes, rolls. I'm old enough to remember when the KFC box meals came with rolls. The biscuits didn't come along until late in the '70s, around the time "extra crispy" skin was rolled out. When I was little, Kentucky Fried Chicken was one kind. It's called "original recipe" for a reason.

** = But where's the @#$%ing GRAVY?? Or, as it was call
ed back in the day, "The Colonel's cracklin' gravy." The mashed potatoes without the gravy is, like, a crime against decent society.

A TASTE OF HONEY: I like this number. The title reminds me of a salesman who used to stop in at least once a week at my restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, where I first served my Kentucky Fried Chicken. That man couldn't eat a biscuit without honey ... said the only thing that tasted better than biscuits and honey was my Kentucky Fried Chicken itself.

LONELY BULL:
I remember a friend of mine being chased by a bull, when I was a boy back on the farm. He was taking a short cut through his pasture, don't you see, when suddenly he heard him snorting up behind him. He broke the record for the 50-yard dash that day! Be sure to pick a field without a bull when you picnic with Kentucky Fried Chicken.

CHILI VERDE: Real Mexican Chili Verde's made from hot green peppers, and the first time I tried it I thought I'd taken a mouthful of fire. (Where I come from tastes lean more to foods like Kentucky Fried Chicken).

SPANISH FLEA:
I understand there used to be a flea circus in Taxco where the fleas had been trained to dance the Varsuviana. At least, the man said they were dancing the Varsuviana. To some, it looked more like the Turkey Trot. Speaking of turkey, the Mexicans serve with chocolate sauce and call it a Mule. But they also like Kentucky Fried Chicken.

OUR DAY WILL COME: I like the tone of optimism in this one. My own philosophy has always been to look ahead. Never look back except to learn from your mistakes.

TIJUANA TAXI:
Riding in a taxi in Tijuana, or just about anywhere else in Mexico, is one of the world's scariest experiences. Every drive seems to think he's a matador, and that all the other vehicles are bulls! The only other place I know where drivers are so aggressive is Tokyo, which, incidentally, is another city where you can enjoy Kentucky Fried Chicken.

GREEN PEPPERS:
Americanos who are used to sweet, mild green peppers are invariably taken by surprise by the South-of-the-border variety. Don't eat them the way you eat Kentucky Fried Chicken. Take them in moderation. Very small bites ... and don't eat the seeds. They'll set you on fire!

EL GARBANZO:
The Garbanzo is a Mexican bean, or chick pea, and very good, indeed. Also, it happens to be one of the beans that is used in my delicious mixed bean salad.

EL TORO: El Toro, the Brave Bull, is highly respected in Mexico. Mexicans like cockfights, too, and will pay big money for a fighting chicken. Most of 'em agree, however, that the chicken that gives the most for the money is my Kentucky Fried Chicken. Ole!

THIRD MAN THEME: This isn't really a Mexican tune, but then, Kentucky Fried Chicken wasn't a Mexican dish 'til we took it down there. Good things like "The Third Man Theme" and Kentucky Fried Chicken belong wherever you find them, don't you see?

*********
Well. Talk about the power of suggestion. How many times are the words "Kentucky Fried Chicken" mentioned above? Are you now as hungry as I am? Yeah, next time I feel like having a picnic with KFC, I'll pick a pasture full of charging bulls. I'll let them have the mashed potatoes, since the 'menu' doesn't call for any cracklin' gravy.

(By the way, somebody with way too much time on his hands created an entire font based on the original KFC logo. I pulled down a copy and it looks pretty spiffy.)

Did you know Kentucky Fried Chicken did not start out as a chain all its own? For years, it was just a franchised menu item which individual restaurants used to serve, usually alongside regular menu items. Col. Harland Sanders used to drive all around the Southeast, pitching the idea of his pressure-cooked fried chicken with "11 secret herbs and spices." The Colonel would get a set amount for each piece of chicken the restaurant sold.

One such place was The Gamecock Restaurant (and Motel) in Santee, South Carolina. Yes, the trademark bucket sign has been around a long time. (Trivia: it was none other than DAVE THOMAS who created the wobbling/rotating bucket. He worked for Col. Sanders before breaking off and founding Wendy's)

It wasn't until the late '60s before the candy-striped KFC restaurants began popping up, and I'd say it was 1975 when all the local contracts ran their courses and Kentucky Fried Chicken became a full-tilt chain.

If you're ever on I-75 in east Kentucky, I recommend a slight detour to Corbin to take in the museum. You can't miss it. There's a 200+ foot tall bucket sign overlooking the whole town. There's even a fully-functioning KFC restaurant inside, too.

But sorry, you won't find the secret ingredients. But you will see a bench where you can have your very own photo-op with a life-sized porcelain-like Colonel. "He's" even putting his arm around you, as if you're his bestest friend. And you ARE, too ... provided you're eating his chicken.

As Col. Sanders might've said, "Make Kentucky Fried Chicken your religion. The last damn thing we need around here are a bunch of CHURCH'S!"

Corbin has a radio station, too. WCTT. Does that stand for (C)olonel's (T)op (T)unes? "We only play 29 records -- the other 11 are secret."

Put that in your pressure cooker and fry it.

--Talmadge "Make Mine Original" Gleck

1 comment:

nettiemac said...

Oh my --- I am "checking the coolwax" and I am in heaven. Oh my....

And KFC too. Now you got even ME jonesing for some!