Chicken and waffles
|Chicken and Waffles|
Soul food style chicken and waffles, served with peaches and cream as dessert
|Place of origin||United States|
|Main ingredient(s)||Chicken, waffles|
|Variations||Fried chicken with butter and syrup
Stewed chicken with gravy
Soul food version
The best known chicken and waffle pairing comes from the American soul food tradition and uses fried chicken. The waffle is served much as it would be at breakfast time, with condiments such as butter and syrup. This unusual combination of foods is beloved by many people who are influenced by traditions of soul food passed down from past generations of their families. This version of the dish is highly popular in Baltimore, Maryland, enough to become a well-known local custom.
Pennsylvania Dutch version
|This section requires expansion with: background, history, and citations from reliable sources. (May 2013)|
The exact origins of this dish are unknown, although several theories about its origin exist. One such theory is that waffles entered American cuisine in the 1790s after Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of a waffle iron from France. Recipes for waffles and chicken soon appeared in cookbooks. Because African Americans in the South rarely had the opportunity to eat chicken and were more familiar with flapjacks or pancakes than with waffles, they considered the dish a delicacy. For decades, it remained “a special-occasion meal in African American families.”
Other historians place the origin later, after the post-Civil War migration of African Americans to the North. Fried chicken was a common breakfast meat, and serving “a breakfast bread with whatever meat [was available] comes out of the rural tradition.” The combination of chicken and waffles does not appear in early Southern cookbooks such as Mrs. Porter’s Southern Cookery Book, published in 1871 or in What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, published in 1881 by former slave Abby Fisher. Fisher’s cookbook is generally considered the first cookbook written by an African American. The lack of a recipe for the combination of chicken and waffles in Southern cookbooks from the era may suggest a later origin for the dish.
The dish was served as early as the 1930s in such Harlem locations as Tillie's Chicken Shack, Dickie Wells jazz nightclub, and Wells Supper Club.
In popular culture