*A recurring series chronicling my obsession with chicken that has been fried.
It is yet to be determined if I will ever find peace.
I can say quite confidently that since my boyhood there has been been something missing, something deep down inside that should be there but isn't. As a child, one hardly knows how to deal with this feeling. As one matures, though - as I have - one begins to acquire the ability to put into words what had been a mysterious, nameless void. Now, close to 30, I can say that was is missing is the experience of wearing a perfectly fitting pair of pants and/while eating a perfectly fried chicken. As to the former, I shall save discussion for other posts; as to the latter, I shall save discussion for the paragraphs starting directly after this one.
Thursday, November 17, 2011. Although mid-November, it had been a balmy, mild week. Yet on this day, a certain frigidness crept in from the North. Or perhaps the East. Actually, I don't know where it came from, but it certainly got cold. I had had a busy week, going to events and such, and was looking forward to a night of whatever I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be fried chicken.
I have discussed fried chicken on this blog before, but to reiterate: I have this desire, this need, to have an absolutely transcendent fried chicken. I'm not sure why, but all I think about is having the greatest fried chicken, one that is crispy, golden, crunchy, salty, tender, juicy and moist but not too juicy and moist; one that just has an incredibly buttery, chicken-y, crunchy taste. I need to have this.
Now, back to my narrative. There was music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air. The Occupy Wall Street crowd were marching over the Brooklyn Bridge, and I could have joined them and supported a worthwhile cause, but instead I chose chicken, which is actually much more worthwhile. I went to The Cardinal, a new restaurant on East 4th Street, for some fried chicken.
I am not one to talk about ambiance when it comes to restaurants, but, for reasons I will later elaborate on, The Cardinal was exactly as it should be. Warm and relaxed vibe; felt like I could be in North Carolina (where the chef is from). As I was alone, I sat at the bar, and a young lady who had been speaking French and who was manning the bar asked for my order. "The fried chicken with mac and cheese and black eyed peas," I declared, "and a Dad's root beer to drink!"
My meal arrived, and this was easily one of the better fried chickens I have ever had. Also, the mac and cheese was very good, and the black eyed peas were revelatory in the sense that I didn't know black eyed peas could be so good. The whole experience was great. The restaurant, the service, the Dad's root beer, the sides and the fried chicken.
Indeed, perhaps I have learned a lesson here. This whole time, I've been seeking the perfect fried chicken. Perhaps, though, there is no such thing: only the perfect fried chicken experience or meal. Maybe fried chicken is not meant to be perfect on its own.
But no, no! I must have the perfect fried chicken. A fried chicken in which all I need is the chicken, or perhaps a side of the very same fried chicken to go with my perfect fried chicken. I need to eat fried chicken and feel whole. As Jesus is my witness, I must find it, and if I do, Jesus is welcome to hang around and join me, as long as he doesn't hog all of the fried chicken.
Summary: The Cardinal is awesome, I will be going back to eat their fried chicken and also lots of other dishes that look tasty, and although their fried chicken is one of the best fried chickens I have ever had, my soul still feels empty.