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Friday, October 3, 2008

Smothered in Chicken & Waffles

Is it my fault I don't get a hankering for chicken and waffles? Perhaps...The first thing I want in the morning is a hot cup of perked coffee. Yes, I perk my coffee. Now, anyone who has ever perked coffee in the morning knows it takes a wee bit longer than the drip method. While the coffee is preparing for it's morning debut, I usually ponder the infamous question, "What shall I make for dinner?" Chicken and Waffles just never comes to mind. I suppose it's because I'm somewhat suspended in the realm of neither breakfast nor dinner and frankly speaking, chicken and waffles confuses me. Even the day it is celebrated perplexes me. International Chicken And Waffles Day is celebrated on the first Friday following the first Thursday in October." Whew!

Chicken & Waffles

The dish of chicken and waffles has perplexed many a person besides me. For instance, no one is quite sure of its origin. Adding to the confusion is the fact that there are two types of dishes that go by the name of 'chicken and waffles.' One type consists of a plain waffle with chopped-up chicken on top and smothered in gravy, which is believed to be a dish of the Pennsylvania Dutch. The second serving is that of fried chicken escorted by a tasty waffle either lavished in butter or syrup or both. A true southern favorite. Some food historians believe the combination is as diverse as its migration. Which leads me to the next question. Is it really necessary to waffle about the origins of chicken and waffles? I mean, does it really matter? 

Oh alright, I'll admit it, I'm a little annoyed that I don't have the proper cookbooks or reference books here in New York with me to really explore the origin of chicken and waffles. I do remember reading they were popular for feeding many people at once for such gatherings as firehall benefits and church luncheons. For now, I'm  just going to have to offer what I found online from Sauerkraut Yankees: Pennsylvania Dutch Foods & Foodways by William Woys Weaver (p.132) There is also some information available online which would question a few things quoted at the food time line site (the link is below) It appears chicken and waffles were mentioned in print before the 19th century. Once in a book titled Wanted: a Pedigree (1871) and in Harper's Monthly available at Cornell University.

"Pennsylvania Dutch waffles could also be used for simple meals, dispensing with the sugar and spices, and served like toast with chicken or meat and a thick gravy, thus elevating them to the level of a main course or substitute roast. Chicken and waffles was a particularly popular combination among the Dutch of central Pennyslvania well into the 1920s."

A restaurant named the Wells Supper Club in Harlem used the slogan "Wells: Home of Chicken and Waffles, Since 1938." According to Glady's (Knight) and Ron's (Winans) Chicken & Waffles website, "The concept of Chicken and Waffles was born in Harlem, New York in the 1930's. Well's restaurant served many celebrities as they hung out in the late night hours. Many of them couldn't decide if they wanted breakfast or dinner. Well's gave them both."

In the commotion of my mind, I think I will consider chicken and waffles a brunch dish. Now can I have a cup of coffee? Perked! 

Tomorrow is National Cinnamon Bun Day in Sweden. Katy who is hostess at the Food for a Hungry Soul blog has a most inviting recipe. Take a look see...

Resources
1. Chicken & Waffles Day
2. What do Thomas Jefferson, Harlem Jazz Musicians and the PA Dutch Have in Common? Chicken & Waffles, Baby!
3. Breakfast or Dinner?
4. Chicken & Waffles (@ the food timeline)
5. How To Eat Chicken & Waffles
6. The Evening Independent August 1922 (Chicken & Waffles ad for an electric waffle iron (the link may or may not work:(
7. Dutch Chicken and Waffles recipe
8. Guide Notes to Chicken & Waffles
9. International Waffle Day (a previous post; includes a few waffle recipes)