Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Addiction | December 6, 2011

The all-knowing, all-seeing, great and powerful Wikipedia claims that “addiction can…be viewed as a continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it.”

For some, it is drugs.  Others, alcohol.  Eating toilet paper has been documented as an addictive behavior…

…and watching My Strange Addiction is an effective way to make you feel better about your previously-thought-to-be “strange” dependence.

Mine is chicken.

But not just any old bird, mind you.  I’m here to announce to you, America (and Russia, source of my most traffic and delightful spam comments), that I’m addicted to hot chicken.

For those not from Nashville, Tennessee, hot chicken is a (very) regional delight first made popular by Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack.  Since its inception, other top-notch chicken dives have popped up around the metro area (Bolton’s, 400 Degrees, Pepperfire), satisfying the Music City’s cravings for meat, fat, and pain.
The preparation is rather simple:  chicken quarters are brined and/or marinated in buttermilk, breaded, and deep or pan fried.  As soon as the crispy birds leave the grease, a thick paste of melted lard and cayenne pepper is painted onto the still-shimmering crust and left to set.  The whole mess is served atop plain white bread (presumably to soak up the spicy goodness) and topped with pickles.
Of course, I’m just speculating.  If I were to discover the proprietors’ specific recipes, I’m told my body would be drowned in a boiling cauldron of rendered pork fat and fiery red pepper.  I would then be mashed into a paste and be served to other snitches… 
… okay, again, I’m guessing.  But they’d probably be mad at me if I revealed their secrets and give me a good talking-to.
Bite into Nashville hot chicken, though, and you won’t give a damn how it’s made.  Usually served at various levels of heat, from basically plain-fried chicken to the hell-spawn of Satan himself (my strange addiction), you will only want more.  Eyes water.  Lips swell with the sting.  Tongue, nose, gums, and throat groan in protest.  But you keep going back, despite the physical pain and damage done.  The interplay of crunchy crust, incendiary spice, moist chicken, and liquid schmaltz… is… irresistible.
“…continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it…”

You are consuming quantities of fat that would make the Crisco family blush.  Very possibly, you will not have taste buds for a couple days.  But the worst comes later.  A few hours after consuming this fiery fowl- and I cannot stress this enough- DO NOT GO OUT IN PUBLIC.  Hot chicken’s most sinister vengeance sneaks up on the unsuspecting, suddenly and swiftly striking down upon the gastrointestinal system like the mighty hammer of Thor.  There’s really no other way I can put it.
Yet, you will come back.  Addiction, thy name is Nashville hot chicken.
So, if you find yourself in Middle Tennessee, hell-bent on culinary masochism, seek out one of the many hole-in-the-wall chicken shacks.  Call ahead if you can, as these places are really popular (supporting the fact that we all are- in fact- aboard a ship of fools).  While you’re waiting, hit up Nashville’s finest wine shop- Woodland Wine Merchant (which conveniently sits equidistant from Pepperfire and Bolton’s)- and snag a bottle to pair.  The easiest approach is to enter the store, find a friendly associate, and ask for “hot chicken wine”.  They’ll hook you up with a sure winner.  Like this one:
Bugey is a region in France- east of Burgundy- that makes some wonderful wines.  This was a sparkling rosé number made from mainly Pinot Noir and/or Gamay grapes.  The fizz and acidity washed the lard from my palate, and the low alcohol (8%) and slight sweetness didn’t amplify the heat of the chicken, but soothed it into submission.  Plus, when you have to slug back a lot of beverage to tame the flames, it helps to not be downing large quantities of rocket-fuel.
Granted, all that liquid may cause you to have to use the restroom.  So- for heaven’s sake- use a fork when eating your hot chicken…
That’s a pain that might just put you back on the wagon.

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