Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rambling: Frying the slow way

I just fried chicken "Mom style" for the first time since Mom died. I've fried plenty of chicken since then, but I always fried it the faster, less greasy, Alton-Brown-inspired way. Tonight I realized around nine o'clock that I had a whole chicken that wanted to be cooked before it expired. The crust of Mom-style chicken is better the next day, and the method works better for bone-in chicken breasts, so I did it that way. I'm eating some, wiping my greasy fingers and typing between bites. And of course, the taste makes me think of Mom.

When I say that Mom didn't love me, I don't mean that she hated me. I mean that she didn't know how. I believe that for her to understand on an emotional level that another person had a mind, and thoughts, and feelings, for her to try to bond with that separate mind and to succeed to any extent, stretched her emotional understanding to its limit. She did that with one person in the world--my brother. I'm proud of her for achieving that. I've accepted--well, sometimes--that to expect her to generalize that, to love even one more person, would be expecting something beyond her ability.

But to the extent that I perceived love from her in childhood, I perceived it most in her fried chicken. And I realize just as I type that last sentence that in a way, this whole bleeping blog is dedicated to fried chicken, and so...

Sigh. There's always one more tether to childhood and your parents, isn't there?

Mom fried chicken for me. She made her spaghetti sauce for my brother. Both appeared with equal frequency on the dinner menu. She always floured and fried the stray little bits of chicken and skin that appeared when she cut up the chicken, and fished them out of the pan along with clumps of fried flour, and let me steal these "crunchies". I ate some of that fried flour before I sat down to chicken on a proper plate. Shatteringly crisp. The taste of greedy childhood.

Chicken skin as love?

So be it.

Image: Mine.


  1. Martha, you're so right - just when I think I have analyzed and understood all of the connections leading back to my childhood, I am confronted with one more that I didn't see coming.

    My mother, too, hid her love for me in food. I now see that as rather a sweet - if incomplete - expression. It is safer than emotional connection. Safer than loving. And it also provides the cloak of good mothering from the outside looking in.

    Cinnamon rolls are the link to my mother - they carried the unspoken message that she was not depressed and wanting to die. She was well enough to go through the process of cooking these delicious treats. And for that one day, we could let down our guard and simply be children.

  2. My ex's mother never showed any physical affection to him, but was always ready with financial help when he needed it, even to the point of giving him the funds to buy me out of our shared home last year. Some people just have a block I guess when it comes to expressing love. Chicken skin and cash - I guess they all have their place - though I was lucky enough to have a very loving mother.

  3. Okay, woman. You did it again: made me cry, made me want to hug up my kids and mommy them better than I did yesterday, and call my mother and thank her for EVERYTHING.

    I always felt that Mom loved me. She said so. She did little things for me, she gave me little gifts from time to time, she made the foods I liked, taught me to appreciate beauty, and disciplined me when I got out of line. I did feel sometimes that I "had to be good" for her, but that's an issue based more on our personality differences than her mistakes. Sure, she made them. And her big struggle as a parent is letting go (she was an inveterate snooper, for example), which she's learning how to do - and I just turned 45!

    My dad's the one who teases and nicknames and offers money instead of saying "I love you." You know how I know he loves me? He checks the tread on my minivan tires every time he visits (The CEO maintains his own vehicle pretty well, but he ignores mine unless I complain), and then offers to take the van to get new tires. It took me years to figure that out, and to feel the love in it, when it's SO not the way I'd prefer to receive it.

    Here's to feeling the love in whatever way we can. And to passing it on, however we can. (So here's some for you, too.)

  4. Hey, Josephine. I always find your words on the Mom topic helpful. :)

    I'm curious; do you still love cinnamon rolls, or are they sad now? Right this minute, realizing the connection, I'm feeling a bit of a sad/angry vibe about the chicken. But now _I'm_ the chicken cook and it's part of my identity too, so I suspect that it will take on its celebratory party-balloon vibe again soon.

  5. Hi, Vanessa! Yeah, a lot of people seem to have that block, and then their kids develop one, and on and on it goes. I can track problem mothers back to my mother's mother's mother, and that's not where it gets healthy, it's just where the oral history stops.

  6. Howdy, Mals! I didn't mean to make you cry. :) It's sad that your father's love has to come in tire treads, but, yes, I think that most of us will take it where it comes. And thank you. :)