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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)

8 Nibbles:

acey said...

louise, your writing is really light and entertaining. and even though you always write about food, your bright personality just shows. :)

this is the 1st time in m life that i have ever--ever--heard or read about chicken and waffles! that i have to try. haha... i just find it hard to picture both, but i would really have to try it someday (soon, i hope)!

you are also the 1st person i know who perks coffee and enjoys it. :D

i learned about 2 new things today in your blog and you know how i love food. haha.

glamah16 said...

HA! Great post. I never really got the concept until I I tried it and it was good. But not something I have to have all the time. In Chicago they opened up a fake Roscoes(like the famous one in La's) Chicken and Waffles.I hvae yet to check it out but I see the traffic outside. So they must be doing something right.

~~louise~~ said...

acey: The first email I read this morning was from you and I must say, you certainly made my day. It thrills me to know you have discovered something new by visiting. And yes, I do enjoy perked coffee. I know it sounds rather out of style but it really tastes so much better to me. Now, you have to whip up some chicken & waffles!

~~louise~~ said...

Thanks Courtney,
Those chicken & waffle places seem to have a loyal following. I suppose my thinking is, if I'm not going to have breakfast food for breakfast, I may as well have DESSERT!

Dennis Villegas said...

what an appetizing entry...although i have never eaten chicken and waffles together, i think it's a great idea...will definitely try it next time. thanks for sharing louise!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I had Chicken and Waffles on a visit to Memphis last spring. Surprisingly good, but the tradition was also a complete mystery to me. It does seem when you track back that eating meat at breakfast was much more common a century ago, and chicken was readily available in agricultural communities. Interestingly, in Europe, you often see much more meat available with breads at breakfast, too.

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Dennis,
Thank you so much for visiting. I'm so glad you like the idea of chicken & waffles. I hope you will let us know what you think when you try them. Maybe a picture too. I've seen your amazing pictures!

T.W. You know T.W. I considered asking your opinion about chicken & waffles before I did this post. I was truly boggled by the thought...For some, it may be as usual as bacon and eggs, I suppose.

Kathy said...

I hadn't even heard of Chicken and Waffles until T.W.'s Memphis restaurant visit. Thanks for the informative post. Maybe now if I ever see it on a menu, I'll give it a try.