Garden and Gun blesses us with a bucket list of good fried chicken places. I really like fried chicken. My mother, Dear, used to cut up whole chickens and pan-fry them, and make milk gravy in the pan drippings. Served over rice, usually with Le Sueur petit pois (this was the ’50s), it made perhaps my favorite meal. I especially liked to gnaw the neck and back — virtually all crisp exterior — and to this day I’m often distracted by the thought of fried gizzards and hearts.
But I don’t eat a lot of fried chicken now. It’s achingly hard to find pan-fried chicken anywhere, and I have yet to find any sort of really good fried chicken north of Raleigh. I suspect there is some sort of atmospheric or electromagnetic barrier that inhibits proper frying north of the line. And when I’m south of Raleigh, I tend to focus on barbecue. So I really can’t offer a lot of wisdom on the list. I’ve liked the fried chicken at McCabe’s, which is on the list, and it was good; but the chicken (and the barbecue) at Shuler’s, just up the road, was better: put it on your list. And I usually get both barbecue and fried chicken at Parker’s, where the chicken is really good. I mean the Parker’s in Wilson, NC. Garden and Gun cites the Parker’s in Greenville. (I don’t know if they’re associated.) Saveur bragged about the fried chicken at Parker’s in Wilson, while the folks at Chef and the Farmer (and the Boiler Room: good oyster bar)) in Kinston cite the Greenville Parker’s. I suspect their endorsement has a lot to do with the fact that Greenville is closer to Kinston than Wilson, and an easer drive.
I don’t really expect to get to the Parker’s in Greenville, what with B’s, the Skylight Inn, Sam Jones’, all of which are wonderful, and the as yet untried Bum’s, all in the immediate vicinity. You have to set priorities.
Maybe Nancy would be willing to spend a few weeks vacationing in Greenville.
The Garden and Gun list is idiosyncratic, relying, as it does, on the individual opinions of foodies all over the South: they didn’t have teams testing and comparing the chicken in their respective states or regions. This methodology often proves unreliable: the Garden and Gun barbecue bucket list includes places in DC: enough said.
The bucket list is appended by comments from people who like the fried chicken at various fast food chains, and thereby betray their most perverse yearnings. Suffice it to say that eating fried chicken at any fast food place other than Chick-fil-A is just wrong, except for undergraduates who have been drinking too much and who can’t get a ride to a Waffle House.
I welcome comments on places on the Garden and Gun list, and places that should be on it but are not.