Fried Chicken, The Fascinating History Through The Years

Fried chicken, with its crispy golden crust, and succulent meat, is undoubtedly a universally beloved culinary delight. It has earned a cherished place in the hearts and taste buds of people across cultures and continents. Whether enjoyed as a comforting home-cooked meal or savoured at renowned restaurants, fried chicken's irresistible appeal transcends boundaries and brings people together in a shared love for this delicious dish. 

To understand the history of fried chicken, we must embark on a journey through time, exploring its origins, cultural adaptations, and enduring popularity. But unfortunately, the history of fried chicken is not so cut and dry. In fact, it’s a fascinating tale that spans across continents and centuries. So while it is difficult to pinpoint a single inventor or origin, fried chicken has evolved over time, incorporating flavours and techniques from various cultures.

Video Credit: Hands Touch/YouTube

The roots of fried chicken can be traced back thousands of years, with early accounts emerging from China, the Middle East, and West Africa. However, the first published fried chicken recipe is credited to English cook Hannah Glasse in 1747. This suggests that fried chicken was already a popular dish by that time.

When it comes to American-style fried chicken, its origins are often attributed to the American South. While some theories suggest Scottish immigrants introduced the concept, many believe that it was African people, particularly those who were enslaved in the United States, who played a significant role in shaping the dish.

Enslaved Africans brought their culinary traditions and West African spices to the Southern United States. These unique flavours and cooking techniques revolutionised the way fried chicken was prepared, creating a taste that became synonymous with Southern cuisine. African American entrepreneurs, notably women, started selling fried chicken as early as the 1730s, and their influence helped popularise the dish.

In the 20th century, the fast-food industry played a pivotal role in the widespread popularity of fried chicken with places like KFC and Popeye’s. Beyond the United States, fried chicken has also found its place in the cuisines of various countries. Different cultures have put their own unique twists on the dish. South Korea is known for its Korean fried chicken, which features a thin and crispy coating and is often glazed with a sweet and spicy sauce. Senegal has a dish called yassa poulet, where chicken is marinated in a tangy mixture of lemon, onions, and mustard before being grilled or fried. In Japan, karaage is a popular style of fried chicken that is marinated in soy sauce, ginger, and garlic for a flavorful bite.

Preferences for fried chicken vary among individuals. Some enjoy the classic American-style fried chicken, while others may opt for grilled chicken or even vegetarian alternatives like fried tofu. Regardless of the specific preparation, fried chicken holds a special place in the hearts and traditions of many families around the world, thanks to its long and diverse history.