How Fried Chicken Became An Iconic Food Of The Culture

fried chicken
Briona Lamback
October 3, 2023

It’s battered in a blend of buttermilk, spices, and love, then fried until golden brown and crunchy. Nothing like that warms the soul like biting into a perfect piece of fried chicken. 

So why do some of us hold shame about this staple food?

While fried chicken’s origins are difficult to trace, there’s no denying that enslaved Black chefs perfected and popularized it as a quintessential part of our culture and cuisine.

Soul food scholar Adrian Miller believes we began frying the bird based on Scottish enslavers’ recipes. But we’ve long tapped into an ancestral gift for seasoning and frying, a cooking tradition that West Africans have used for centuries.

Chicken is spiritual for us, too. Traditionally, chickens were divinely significant and used in many West African religious rituals. Our people carried those spiritual beliefs across the Atlantic, where the “Sunday cluck” filled folks’ spirits with goodness alongside the word in many of our churches.

Its popularity gave way to racist tropes that mainstream media used to dehumanize our people. But we must release all shame tied to our foods and culture. 

It’s not ours to carry.