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The American English expression “fried chicken” is first recorded in the 1830s, and frequently appears in American cookbooks of the 1860s and 1870s.
The origin of fried chicken in the southern states of America has been traced to precedents in Scottish and West African cuisine.
Scottish fried chicken was cooked in fat (though unseasoned) while West African fried chicken was seasoned (but battered and cooked in palm oil). Scottish frying techniques and African seasoning techniques were used in the American South by African slaves. Fried chicken provided some means of independent economy for enslaved and segregated African-American women, who became noted sellers of poultry (live or cooked) as early as the 1730s. Because of this and the expensive nature of the ingredients, it was, despite popular belief, a rare dish in the African-American community reserved (as in Africa) for special occasions.

Ruth Brooks

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