The most Southern of foods that you’ll enjoy when you’re driving around in the south is a rite of passage that you’ll love; fried chicken.
When you think of southern delicacies, you’re likely to summon up images of steaming bowls of grits –either with a generous pat of butter or an unhealthy amount of cheese, Creole favorites like gumbo or jambalaya, or any variation of delicious soul food like greens, catfish, macaroni and cheese, or black-eyed peas. However, any list of southern comfort foods would be remiss without adding the southern made and everywhere favorite, fried chicken.
The Popularity of Fried Chicken
Fried chicken has become so popular across the United States, that everyone has tried to duplicate a favorite recipe that most assuredly originated in the south. Franchise restaurants like Popeye’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Bojangles specialize in trying to fulfill that crispy craving. For the rest of the world, it works, but no so much for the people who live down south and know what real fried chicken is supposed to taste like.
In this country, we like to experience multiple tastes while still eating relatively simple food. Fried chicken gives us the perfect combination of salty and savory, crunchy yet moist. The best piece of fried chicken in the world should have a crispy and tasty fried crust, but the chicken inside should drip down your chin as soon as you take a bite. Most home cooks in the south have this dish in their repertoire, but the good people in the Tennessee city of Nashville have another trick up their sleeve when it comes to this southern favorite.
The Hot Chicken Craze
Around eighty years ago, a woman scorned created a recent food trend that is coming at us like a locomotive, but why haven’t we heard anything about it until now? Well, like all trends, it all starts with a legend. Back in the thirties, a woman set out to punish her philandering fellow, and she did so by kicking up the spice blend in his normal fried chicken. She added enough spice that the chicken was meant to be a punishment for his cheating ways. However, what actually happened is that he ended up loving it, sharing it with his friends, and eventually opening up his own chicken joint in Nashville.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack has been the place to go to get hot chicken in the Nashville area for nearly seventy years, but some Nashville residents have never heard of the signature dish. Unfortunately, the food craze that is taking five-star restaurants in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles by storm, has been a staple of the African American neighborhoods in Nashville for decades. Little was known about this specialty dish outside these locales until more recently, however, the Prince family and the original fans of the dish will tell you that their place is still where you’ll get it done right.
Not Your Typical Fried Chicken
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack isn’t going to serve you a delicately fried piece of chicken on specialty bread decorated with artisan pickles and some hideous sauce. Nope! They are going to serve you their fried chicken breast coated with their very own hot sauce, with two pieces of basic white bread, and some dill pickle chips and it’s going to be glorious. The family-owned and operated business aren’t the only one in the area, but it is where it all started… according to legend, anyway.
There is no telling why Nashville Hot Chicken has seen such an uptick in popularity recently, other than the idea that someone ventured off the beaten path and started running their mouths about the chicken they’d tried in Tennessee. Once the foodie scene caught on, Nashville’s neighborhoods’ best-kept secret was out of the bag, and oh, we would like to thank that man for cheating all those years ago!