Fried Chicken Origins

This article was written by Phin Upham

The practice of frying both meats and vegetables dates back to the ancients. Frying had a few important advantages for ancient civilizations: it kept fuel consumption low and it was easy to transport fried goods from one place to the next.

The ancients even improved upon the basic recipe, opting to coat meat in spices and dough before frying, which enhanced the flavors of the dish. The Roman recipe actually called for wine with two tablespoons of salt for flavor. Medieval Europeans further improved on the art of frying by introducing the world to the “fricassee,” which is simmered in butter and served alongside a creamy sauce.

So, what’s the difference between fried and deep fried?

Well, naming for one. Webster’s only used the term “deep frying” beginning in 1930. Food historians tend to rely on ancient cookbooks for more information. What they often find are instructions to submerge something in cooked lard, or to drain the fluids in a pot in such a way that suggests deep frying.

Frying is especially popular in the southern parts of the United States, where the technique is almost a holy homage to food. Chickens are butchered, then flavored with various spices before being fried. It likely became popular thanks to African-American slave cooks, who were allowed to keep and raise chickens for themselves. However, the sauce that we tend to put over fried chicken wasn’t part of that tradition. That probably originates from Maryland, where a concoction not unlike the fricassee is a popular dish.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website

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