“My theory is that all of Scottish cuisine is based on a dare.”
The other day while doing my research for this blog I had my Southern heartbroken. I discovered that fried chicken is not originally from the south.
Hard to believe but true. I was shocked; shocked I tell you to discover the Ancient Romans had fried chicken. Yes, you read that right, ancient Romans. Having found this out, I thought I might try to get someone, anyone, to run DNA testing on an ancient Roman. But the only response I received was funny looks with the question about what was in the water bottle I was carrying.
I know by now some of you might think I have made this up but see the original recipe;
PULLUM FRONTONIANUM (Apicius)
1 fresh chicken (approx. 1-1.5kg)
200ml Liquamen, or 200ml wine + 2 tsp salt
Tilly: Okay – determined not to ask, so I checked with the Cooks Food Encyclopaedia https://www.cooksinfo.com › Liquamen was a Roman fish sauce and may originally have been a fish sauce different from the other Roman fish sauce, Garum. No need to thank me.
1 branch of leek, fresh dill, Saturei, coriander, pepper to taste a little bit of Defritum
Tilly: For the likes of us lesser mortals, Saturei is the herb Savoury (note the spelling) and Defritum is a Roman thick syrup, made from a form of grape juice known as grape must.
Start to fry chicken and season with a mixture of Liquamen and oil, together with bunches of dill, leek, Saturei and fresh coriander. Then cook approximately 1 hour at 220 deg C in the oven. When the chicken is done, moisten a plate with Defritum, put chicken on it, sprinkle pepper on it, and serve.
Now, I ask you – , is this the fried chicken recipe that you had as a child for Sunday dinner? I think not. So on to more research this is what I found;
T o Fry Chicken (The Good Housewife’s Jewel, 1596)
Take your chickens and let them boil in very good sweet broth a pretty while. Take the chickens out and quarter them out in pieces. Then put them into a frying pan with sweet butter, and let them stew in the pan. But you must not let them be brown with frying. Then put out the butter out of the pan, and then take a little sweet broth, and as much verjuice, and the yolks of two eggs and beat them together. Put in a little nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper into the sauce. Then put them all into the pan to the chickens, and stir them together in the pan. Put them into a dish and serve them up.
Well, I will say this the above recipe from 1596 got the spices correct for a good gravy. Still not, what a Southerner would say is fried chicken.
Well the Brits decided to update their recipe so in 1658 they came up with this version.
To fry Chickens.
Take five or six and scald them, and cut them in pieces, then flea the skin from them, fry them in Butter very brown, then take them out, and put them between two Dishes with the Gravy of Mutton, Butter, and an Onyon, six Anchoves, Nutmeg, and salt to your taste, then put sops on your Dish, put fryed Parsley on the top of your Chicken being D ished, and so serve them
Tilly: I bet they meant ‘flay the skin’!
Mutton gravy sounds just horrid on chicken …
And what are sops?.
THE COMPLEAT COOK. Expertly preſcribing the moſt ready wayes,
LONDON: Printed by E. B. for Nath. Brook; at the Angel in Cornhill, 1658.
So just where did Southern Fried Chicken come from? Scotland, that’s where. You see the early Scots did not like the way the British cooked their chicken so instead, using fat, deep-fried their chicken. Emigrating to the newly settled colonies in what would become the Commonwealth of Virginia They may not have had much, but they did not leave the recipe at home in Scotland. They brought that with them. So let’s hear a loud cheer for Scotland.
Tilly: I can’t be rude about Scottish food – I’m part Scottish and I have had some magnificent meals prepared by Scots.
Today Southern Fried Chicken is a classic and for every Southern family there is a recipe. Just remember the basics never change, spices and herbs have been added or taken away but the basic recipe is the same. Flour, egg and spiced flour and fried in a good lard in a cast iron skillet. It is as simple as that. Maybe Tilly will tell her fellow countrymen and women to get it right.
Tilly: Nice try, Olive! But a failed wind-up – excellent fried chicken is available all over the United Kingdom, crisp, moist, tender and full of flavour.
Olive and Tilly
P.S. Olive: Please excuse some of the spelling, the British side of Tilly kicked in.
Tilly: If that man, Webster, had just left well enough alone …