Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fried Chicken



This is a picture of the beautiful cemetery outside of Gloucester's Ware Episcopal Church, which I drive by four thousand four hundred multiple times a week since we all have to drive through here to get Most Anywhere Else.

Gloucester is where my favorite grandmother Nanny (CB Mother's mother)lived.

Today as I was enduring another painful day at the paying job while juggling the various aspects of this thing known as My Life, I had a flashback to a time when everything was wonderful, all was good, there were no troubles other than the occasional ornery sister. It was the era of Nanny's fried chicken.

Nobody makes fried chicken the old-fashioned way any more, or if they do they do not invite me to help them eat it, and I'm not happy about that.

Nanny, who lacked not only a car but a driver's license, walked from Corr Street near Boutetourt School to what is now the Gloucester Library, which at one time was a Safeway. Or she'd walk to Leigh's Market, where I stole a candy bar for reasons I still don't understand other than sheer starvation. Sometimes we'd saunter down to the Wallace and What's His Name--Wallace and Gerly? Colonial Store? Something like that, in the shopping center where the Sears now resides.

(There will be an open-book quiz after you wake up from reading these exhausting, superfluous details.)

My point is, we had to walk a long way to buy one whole chicken.

Also? Nanny used to own a country store at the old Gloucester Day School/Ware Academy, so she was a shrewd shopper. Never trusting the cashiers, she checked the price tags against her receipt when she returned home. If she was overcharged by one cent, we were marching back down there to collect our penny, whether we were starving to death to the point of stealing a candy bar or not.

Back at the house, she'd bring out a big pot of water, load it up with salt and soak the chicken whole for hours. Then she'd cut it up, dredge it in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and plop it into a cast-iron skillet that was older than dirt. Crisco was the grease of choice.

Many Sundays the Chesapeake Bay Family, bickering incessantly, would hop in the VW bus to have Sunday dinner with Nanny. Her famous fried chicken was almost always the main course, served with heavenly mashed potatoes, sweet peas, stewed tomatoes and hot buttered rolls. Whatever bickering there was ceased, as did any and all conversation. Can't talk. Eating.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I returned from the paying job this evening after a particularly rough past couple of days, and there sitting on the kitchen table, piping hot and ready to devour, was a platter of homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes, stewed tomatoes and corn on the cob, all meticulously handmade by Chesapeake Bay Mother who watches the CB Children for me during the week and knows I've had a trying spell.

That wonderful mother apple doesn't fall far from the chicken-frying grandmother tree. Or our family tree is loaded with wonderful apples who are chicken fryers. Or I'll stop now because otherwise I'd drone on until forever tomorrow.

Or, I miss my grandmother but am grateful for Chesapeake Bay Mother who can make everything right with a perfectly-timed plate of fried chicken.

15 comments:

Annie said...

AAH...THAT IS SO NICE...THE STORY and THE PHOTO!

oops...why was I shouting? Sorry.

Anyway, it is good that you know how to make that fried chicken (well, roughly) cos not too many moons (or years) from now, you'll be the granny making it for your grandchildren!

Haha! Sorry, didn't mean to frighten you...I am sure it'll be at least ten years. You have a little leeway yet!

I just surprised myself by discovering that I could manage to put the roof racks on the car. That my son removed in January. Hooray. That means a little extra room when I pick up the family at the airport, in less than 48 hours time...argh. Not that I am going to put any of them up there, especially not the precious grandson.

Sorry. I got a bit long winded there. Will stop now. May you continue to be surprised and encouraged this week.

Living on the Spit said...

I can always tell in your writing when there's a smile on your face...I can see it in your words. You have a fluid rythym and it ends up singing.

Beautiful post and it made me smile.

I need some Nanny fried chicken in my life.

Grandma J said...

Oh boy, that detailed description of your Nanny preparing that chicken has my mouth watering. Your mom is a peach, not an apple! When you come to Texas I'd make you some chicken, but I'd rather not cook so we'll order up a bucket of KFC....or go out for a steak. we have the best steaks here in TX.

Bandera, TX? People live there?

foolery said...

I need to learn how to fry chicken on the BBQ, because I get more and more averse to grease in the air as I age. I just wish I got more averse to grease in my GULLET, but that would just be silly, apparently.

CBMother is as wonderful as FooleryMother, which is saying something. My life just continue to get better for all of you!

foolery said...

That should be "MAY life . . ." because GAHHH I sound self-absorbed.

Pueblo girl said...

Glad to hear you got a bit of TLC. Hope the week gets better - or ends, whichever comes first.

TSannie said...

Nothing better than comfort food. No comfort food better than fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
Your mom is one special lady. And I know this personally! ;-)

Caution Flag said...

I think I love CB mother. AND I think she needs to move to Detroit.

Mental P Mama said...

Bless her beautiful heart. When I move into the brick house, I'll make you some dinner, too. Take care...

Daryl said...

Good comfort food made for a dear daughter by a loving mother .. nothing better .. okay, nothing better I can comment on in a rated G blog

Audrey at Barking Mad! said...

I love your mama. Seriously.

I loved reading this...love reading the recollections of when times were simple and the only stress we had back then was worrying about whether or not we'd remembered to hang out swim suit out flat or had forgotten it on a heap on the floor which meant it was going to smell horrid the next day. This post took me back to a time when my great-Aunts Meta and Wilhelmina used to make me a creamy potato hutspot and then sit around and tell stories from their youth and our family's immigration from Holland on the huge ships.

*sigh*

*hugs*

Lynne M. said...

Oh, I remember Safe-Way, and Lou Smiths. And I think we had an Ames?... Those were the days. My grandma was a wonderful cook, also. I don't remember her fried chicken, probably because she couldn't cook it while I was there. Call me crazy, but as a child, I was terrified by the thought of Grandma slinging around a chicken, OK, I won't go into details. Ya'll country folk know what comes next.

My Mom, on the other hand, did not inherit this cooking gene. Neither did I. My Mom's idea of fried chicken is Food Lion boneless, skinless chicken breast, sprinkled with some naked flour, (only once) and then put in a frying pan that only has PAM in it.

I'm NOT kidding.

So next time ya'll are having actual fried chicken, let me know, or I'll just follow the aroma.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

CBM is truly a gem. I can picture it now.

My grandma made the best fried chicken. Her true recipe/technique died with her, but I have her cast-iron skillet and no aversion to Crisco whatsoever. Also, my oldest first cousin is in charge of "mess" (food) during hunting week at the cabin, and he claims to make as close a facsimile to grandma's fried chicken as is possible in this day and age. I need to get him to write it down for me.

The Washington Post featured 5 fried chicken recipes in its food section a few weeks ago. I kept it and intend to try all of them... one of these days.

mom x 2 said...

Aw, CBM is the best! My Grannie used to fry chicken and taught my Mama, but she doesn't do it anymore :( I'll have to talk to her about that, or maybe I can come visit and you could share some of yours??

I love to read your posts about the good ol' days.

Sending you {{HUGS}} !

Curt McCormick said...

Stay resolved, CBW! Both with the fried chicken...and and other chickens in your life.