Posts Tagged ‘Alabama’

According to the Wall Street Journal, many restaurants are looking “beyond chicken fingers” in an effort to get families to eat out more often. Apparently they think healthier options will be more enticing to parents who are concerned about both their budgets and their kids’ health. I’m guessing there’s one part of the country that will be slow to adopt this trend.


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Whenever anyone mentions Alabama, I think of one story.

I used to work with a guy from China. He was doing his MBA summer internship at the consulting firm where I worked. He was a very curious kind of guy, always asking questions. He never stopped, especially when it came to understanding the language and culture of America. I remember one day when we were sitting in traffic on the way to lunch. It was one of those sweltering summer days in Atlanta. I had been charged with managing him for the summer, and I was doing my best to feed him well, if nothing else.

We had been working long hours on a hard project, and I was starting to grow weary of his incessant inquiries. It just took so much effort to be around this guy, always answering questions, always thinking so rationally. And they were never straightforward questions I could readily answer like “What is the best live country record of all time?” (Charlie Pride’s In Person.)

So there we sit, my car’s A/C struggling under the weight of Atlanta’s humidity, and he points at this car with Alabama plates. He reads the state motto aloud in his unsure, staccato English: “Stahs… Fell… On… A-la-ba-ma.” Then he turns to me and asks, “Is that a good thing?”

I threw up my hands, exasperated: “I don’t know, man! They put it on their license plate, so I guess they think it’s pretty good.” He didn’t say anything in reply. He just filed it away. A little more data on this odd, foreign place called the United States. The land where stars fall, and it’s a good thing.

Several years later, I now have one more Alabama association: chicken fingers. Although, now that I actually look at the photos it’s fair to say that it’s a Georgia thing, too. At any rate, our first encounter with the chicken finger “concept” was Jim Bob’s. We were passing through Opelika, Alabama. A little past Columbus, GA, but well short of Montgomery, AL. We didn’t have any road food recommendations, so we were shooting in the dark.

But alas, it was Sunday. I guess Jim Bob (or a higher power) was trying to tell us something. I suppose we were hungering for the wrong kind of sustenance, because they were closed.

Chicken Fingers 1

So we headed across the street to Zaxby’s. Of course Zaxby’s started in Statesboro, so this was an appropriate choice.

Chicken Fingers 2

Eliza didn’t have anything. My ordering experience was a debacle, but finally I returned to the car with this little beauty.

Chicken Fingers 3

Only three chicken fingers!? I guess we’ll have to stop for more down the road.

Chicken Fingers 4

A few hours later, we considered stopping at a Popeye’s in Mobile, but it looked a little sketchy. We decided to gamble on another fried chicken joint called foosackly’s. I was a little skeptical of the name, but was charmed when we stepped inside.

Chicken Fingers 5

“Keep Mobile Funky.” Sounds familiar.

Chicken Fingers 6

I absolutely loved the design of this place. It spoke to me, and here’s what it said: “We just got out of school and decided to sell chicken fingers. We took some marketing classes and we wear our hats backwards.”

Chicken Fingers 7

They offered us some of their signature sauce, which I think was called “foo sauce.” The woman at the register told us, “It’s like a spicy thousand island.” Nothing wrong with that.

Chicken Fingers 8

The whole foosackly’s experience was great. They chicken was fried and seasoned to perfection. The foo sauce (or whatever they called it) was exactly what fried chicken needs: a little creamy, a little spicy and a little sweet.

Later on the trip, we saw several of these “Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers.” These sightings confirmed what we had begun to suspect: Alabama loves chicken fingers. Not fried chicken, mind you, but chicken fingers.

Still no official word on whether stars falling is a good thing.

Chicken Fingers 9

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Trust in thy iPhone.

Many of our recent trips wouldn’t have been the same without the iPhone. For example, Google Maps’ surprisingly detailed and accurate train/subway/walking directions from JFK to Union Square. And the Yelp app, which has been crucial to finding nearby restaurants and (non-Starbucks) coffee shops.

I wish I had listened to both Eliza and the sole reviewer of this place on Yelp, who said:

First off , this place is inside of a gas station. I had the ribs and they were terrible. They had way too much sauce on them, and the sauce wasn’t even that good. The ribs were rubbery and mostly fat. 75% of the meat was inedible. The fried pickles were OK but that was the only thing that was decent.

But I wanted a snack to tide me over on the way to Atlanta. Plus I figured: there’s only one review. Maybe this guy just didn’t understand barbecue. So I decided to go for what I thought might be a snack size portion: a ham biscuit.

First problem was the fact that it wasn’t country ham, but baked ham. Second, it was gigantic. Third, it looked and smelled disgusting. I had to get it out of the car immediately.

Smokehouse 2

Here I am throwing it out, approximately 20 seconds after purchase. There’s a first time for everything. We do like road food, particularly barbecue, but we also have standards.

Smokehouse 1

iPhone, I’ll never ignore your advice again.

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