Sunday, September 11, 2005

KFC Memories

We grabbed some dinner tonight at KFC. As a reformed Southern gal, I'm not proud of my love for fried chicken, and I manage to avoid it much of the time (to the relief of my future cardiologist), but tonight my son requested it. He hadn't been feeling well today, so we called it a treat (but I was sneakily quite happy with his request).

Eating KFC--specifically KFC, not any other kind of, and in many cases better--fried chicken, brings back a nostalgic memory of Sunday school picnics. They were always held in Red Wing Park, a park and playground on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia Beach. (Has there ever been a better name for a swamp?) A yearly event, for some reason the picnic wasn't a potluck, just a bring-your-own, end-of-year celebration for the entire synagogue Sunday school. In my dim memory of those picnics (which I always enjoyed), what really stands out is the big bucket of KFC (then called by its full name, Kentucky Fried Chicken, before the marketers decided KFC was more palatable to a health-conscious public).

During the late 1960s and '70s, my mother was one of the few working moms I knew. But despite her work schedule, Mom made the time both to take us to religious services on Saturday and teach one of the weekly two-hour classes (a classic case of: if you need something done, ask a busy person to do it). Nevertheless, she drew the line at fitting an elaborate picnic spread into her week. So, although we often made some of her delicious potato salad and a plate of deviled eggs (I'm a great hard-boiled egg peeler), she'd punt on the main course. Hence the big bucket of chicken every year.

I remember that the first couple of years, I was a little embarrassed that we seemed to be the only ones who brought anything "ready-made." (Ah, how times have changed! Where would we working parents be now without the prepared-food counter at Whole Foods?) Then, somewhere around third grade, I gained enough awareness of my environment to realize that the other kids were looking enviously at our bucket of tasty KFC. After all, most of them probably just brought the same sandwiches that went into their school lunch every day or maybe a strange casserole. Some of the really adventurous ones (i.e., dads) would grill burgers, but my mother hates, hates, hates open flames, so that was out for us. In any case, we had fried chicken, those biscuits they give you (with honey, of course), maybe some cole slaw, and Mom's wonderful potato salad.

We always went home empty-handed (empty-bucketed?), because for some reason, other families were always willing to share the burden of our leftover food. I guess they felt sorry for us and wanted to make sure we didn't carry the shame of our store-bought chicken out of the park. Isn't it nice when people care?


Blogger Mr. Liberty said...

Kentucky Fried Chicken is also one of my best memories as a child. My Mom could cook well enough, but when she would announce that Dad was bringing a bucket home, we knew it wasn't a bucket of liver, but the best thing there was.

I haven't had KFC now for probably 5 years (dumb health kick)and I miss it. Perhaps I'll go scarf some today.

Thanks for a fine rememberance, Alison.


11:30 AM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

Thanks, Joe! Yeah, as you know, my mom's a good cook, too, but there's something almost primal about that bucket ... :-)

4:22 AM  
Blogger Mr. Liberty said...

Eating at your Mom's is a delight. And the food, as superb as it is, is only a small portion.


2:45 PM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

Awww! I'm gonna tell her you said that!

5:42 AM  

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