I believe in carbs. I trust their delicious, fatty goodness. I’m so glad they are a part of God’s creation. Someone I met recently told me they don’t eat bread or cake and they don’t eat any fried foods. I immediately questioned the future of our friendship.
I’m learning to fry chicken. I have always approached fried chicken as a consumer not a creator. I loved the site of Colonel Sanders’ bucket, the spicy crunch of Popeye’s, the familial and familiar taste of the way my grandma fried those drumsticks.
I am married to a fried chicken connoisseur. My husband’s love language is the fried bird so in our travels for his job as a deejay and my job as a poet we almost always try the fried chicken if a town is known for it. We’ve had Nashville’s hot chicken, our home city Atlanta’s chicken with honey and biscuits, LA’s chicken and waffles. This year I decided for my husband’s birthday I’d learn how to fry chicken so I could properly fry him the bird myself.
I took out my cast iron skillet. The one Ms. Dorothea from church bought me right before my wedding when she told me how beautiful marriage can be, how completely hard it could be, how she had known both extremes in her lifetime.
I called my grandma. She told me flour, seasoned right. Chicken, seasoned right. And basically enough oil to take a bath in. I googled fried chicken recipes and read the suggestions of TV-renowned chefs. Brine, they said. Buttermilk, they said. Marinate overnight, they said.
I told my mom this and she balked and scoffed.
“Nobody in real life has time to brine and marinate chicken overnight. I didn’t. Your grandma didn’t. Your great grandma didn’t,” she said, “And their chicken turned out fine. More than fine.”
Then she got quiet. I suppose to give me the room to consider if I wanted to trust some TV chefs over generations of shared family fried chicken knowledge.
So I kept it simple. Chicken. Seasoning. Flour. Oil. Skillet. My first try at the fried bird turned out some drumsticks two shades away from being too burnt to eat. My husband loves me so he ate them anyway. My second try produced a golden brown drumstick with undone chicken meat underneath.
I learned from my mistakes. No matter how bad you want to eat the fried chicken, you can’t fry it fast. Fried chicken wants you to take your time. Fried chicken doesn’t really care about your tablespoons or your measuring cups. You will almost always prepare way more then flour than you need and use more oil than you thought you would.
You throw your favorite seasonings in the flour until the mix looks good. Then you taste the flour. Yes, taste it. Does it taste like nothing? Add more seasoning. Does it taste too salty? Add more flour. Does it taste good? Yes? Then you’re ready to fry.
Oil gets hot in the skillet. I dredge the chicken in flour, eggs, then flour again. I put my newly dredged drumsticks in the skillet on medium for a few minutes on each side. Then on low for awhile. I wait. I turn them. They slowly brown. They slowly get done inside and out.
By the time I fried chicken for my husband’s birthday, I’d reached near golden, fried perfection. Crispy skin, tender done chicken, flavor a mix of sweet, savory and spice. I realized maybe God was using fried chicken to teach me something about life. Maybe God was using fried chicken to teach me to wait, surrender, trust.
There is a reason trust rhymes with cuss. I don’t like trust. We are not BFFs, friends, homies. Trust is always arriving just in time to ruin my best laid plans and all the things I thought I had control over. I want to break up with trust, never give it a second date. I want to kick trust to the curb, tell trust to talk to the hand and other nineties’ clichés.
Trust wants me to slow down and approach my faith the fried chicken way. Stop measuring everything down to the teaspoon. Mix in the things I know are required: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Walk with God through everything: when life hurts
and when life goes well.
What if we all tried a new method? What if we stopped measuring our life based on unrealistic social media standards? What if we all took the opportunity to go slow sometimes? Stop driving our lives like we’re on a motor cross speedway and take our time like we’re in a school zone.
Because aren’t we all, no matter how old we are, in a school zone? Aren’t we all learning how, learning when, learning why?
Whether you’re frying chicken, writing the next great novel, healing wounds or starting over, go slow. Don’t just look good on the outside. Let God and the lessons of life give you the strong character you need on the inside.
When you forget all this, fry some chicken. It will keep your hands and mind busy and the end rewards are worth the wait. God’s plans for your life are worth the wait too.
You can read more from Amena in her brand new book, How to Fix a Broken Record: Thoughts on Vinyl Records, Awkward Relationships, and Learning to Be Myself.
Amena Brown is an author, spoken word poet, speaker, and event host. The author of five spoken word albums and two non-fiction books, Amena performs and speaks at events from coffeehouses to arenas with a mix of poetry, humor, and storytelling. She and her husband, DJ Opdiggy, reside in Atlanta, GA.
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