Chicken and waffles
|Place of origin||United States|
|Main ingredients||Chicken, waffles|
|Variations||Fried chicken with butter and syrup
Stewed chicken with gravy
|Cookbook: Chicken and Waffles Media: Chicken and Waffles|
Chicken and waffles refers to either of two American dishes - one from soul food, the other Pennsylvania Dutch - that combine chicken with waffles. It is served in certain specialty restaurants in the United States.
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
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. Fried chicken was a common breakfast meat, and serving “a breakfast bread with whatever meat [was available] comes out of the rural tradition.” The traditional origin of the dish states that 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.” However, other historians cite a scarcity of actual early-era evidence of the dish's existence in the South, and place the origin later, after the post-Civil War migration of Southern African-Americans to the North during the Reconstruction Era. 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.
Whatever the case, many modern variants of the dish owe their origins to the meal as it was served in the African-American community in early 20th-century Harlem, New York. The dish was served as early as the 1930s in such Harlem locations as Tillie's Chicken Shack, Dickie Wells' jazz nightclub - and particularly the Wells Supper Club. Harlem-style chicken and waffles have been popular in Los Angeles since the 1970s due to the fame of former Harlem resident Herb Hudson's restaurant Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, which has become known as a favorite of some Hollywood celebrities and been referenced in several movies.
In popular culture
The 1917 novel Fanny Herself by Edna Ferber mentions a "lying" sign in a Chicago restaurant that advertises "Southern chicken dinner with waffles and real maple syrup, 35 cents each."
On the animated television series The Critic, the main character, Jay Sherman, works for broadcasting mogul, Duke Phillips, of Phillips Broadcasting, which is said to be "formerly Duke's House of Chicken and Waffles."
The 2005 film Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo features a chicken and waffle restaurant in Amsterdam where the titular character interacts with his friend who is hiding from the authorities.
The minor character Roscoe in the film Black Dynamite decides to open a chicken and waffles restaurant after deciding his chili and donuts restaurant is not working out for him.
- Edge, John T. (2004). Fried Chicken: An American Story. Putnam Publishing Group. ISBN 0-399-15183-4.
- Tori Amey (18 January 2013). "Discover History of Chicken and Waffles". PBS Food. "PBS". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "Serving up chicken & waffles". Los Angeles Business Journal. September 22, 1997. p. 1.
- "Breakfast or Dinner". East Bay Express. August 4, 2004.
- Perry, Charles (March 2, 2005). "'Mildred Pierce' still one hot plate". Los Angeles Times.