I don’t know what made me think of this. But I when I was a kid, I remember when our preacher would often shout the following words from the pulpit:
“When I die, folks! Don’t weep for me! For I shall be in a place where the fried chicken never endeth!”
This was a sort of joke, you understand. And it always got a good laugh from the congregation because our preacher was a very round man who definitely knew his way around a fried chicken.
The reason I bring this up is probably because last night my wife made fried chicken. She’s been cooking up a storm since this COVID-19 quarantine started.
She used a hot skillet filled with peanut oil. Then she made cornbread to go with the chicken, and turnip greens. It was pure decadence.
And while I was digesting, I got to thinking about how the best and worst periods of my life can be measured in food.
Seriously. I can look back on the most sacred memories of childhood
and one of the first things that comes back to me is the food. The smells, textures, stains on my shirt. Likewise, I can relive my saddest moments and food is often part of those memories, too.
Twenty-four hours after my father’s death, our porch was loaded with casseroles and various wax-paper-lined shoeboxes of fried chicken. Someone even brought a brown paper sack full of biscuits. There were enough hand-thrown biscuits to last until the Second Coming of Elvis.
Among my people, the period surrounding a funeral features a lot of food. Which is ironic because you don’t feel like eating after your loved one dies, but somehow, you do.
But anyway, I can retell my entire life story with food:
Infanthood; pureed fried chicken. Adolescence; whole fried chicken. Teenage-hood; two whole fried chickens. Adulthood; cholesterol free synthetic alfalfa hay, Metamucil, and Lipitor.
Throughout my life…