Wednesday, 18 February 2009

An American Odyssey, Part 1: The Eastern Seaboard

Our flight landed at roughly 3 in the afternoon, we had touched down in United States of America. Land of the Recipe & Home of the Chicken.

The itinerary of the trip had been planned specifically to take in some of KFC's most ancient temples and revered monuments and relics. Along the way we planned was to seek refuge and revictualing in any of Harland's houses that we passed. Little did we expect to be so rigorously tested in the first three days.

Boston, our first port of call suffers a dearth of KFCs, we passed none during our idle wanderings around the city and resolved to use electronic means. But Google was a false prophet merely leading us astray. We walked for an hour towards what we thought was our goal but there was no chicken in sight. Defeated, we retreated to the scant comforts of base camp before the following day's outing to Salem, would this offer up the prize we strove for?

Salem is of course famous for its witch trials in 1692 in which 19 people were put to death. Had Harland Sanders been one of the pilgrim fathers and introduced his recipe at about this time the world would be a very different place indeed. I am sure that he would have been accused of black magic (for I think that the unearthly tastiness of the secret recipe is a mystery that even modern day science will never explain) but I have no doubt it would have been embraced and the USA we know today would have a distinctly different 3 letter acronym for its name!

Salem though yielded a blank and we were forced to seek pastures new on Manhattan island where our patience was rewarded as soon as we alighted from our coach by a KFC at Penn Station and my first foray into the world of The Famous Bowl.

This dish has been described by blogger Louis Fowler as
"One of the most delicious concoctions man has ever come up with"

Imagine, creamy mashed potato, rich and thick chicken gravy, sweetcorn kernels, crisp Popcorn Chicken and 3 types of grated cheese. It was good, not that I'd go as far as Louis but this was just my first foray into an exciting and exotic foreign menu.

Manhattan's KFCs however were not competition standard. Given that not many tourists make it away from major cities on the US' East Coast it seems a shame to leave them with such a poor memory of one of the US' best loved exports. Seating areas were graffitied, dips were out of stock and air conditioners dripped ice cold water onto the faithful below. We were still a long way from Kentucky though and I knew things would improve.

Whilst Philidelphia yielded no KFC, Washington DC offered a fine establisment boasting both KFC and TacoBell under the same roof a phenomenon seldom seen but that I have been lucky enough to witnessed also in Australia and Canada.

To ability to mix and match from the two menus really adds an entire new dimension to the whole dining experience.

What Washington DC also introduced to us was KFCs rival: Popeyes Chicken. A chain that worryingly commands the kind of fan loyalty seen below.

Sun Tsu in his two thousand year old tome 'The art of war' told us to
"Know your enemy"
and Popeyes in terms of food quality appeared to be a formidable opponent.


What both the Capital and arguably the US' most important city were lacking was a flagship store on a par with London's Leicester square branch, nothing it appeared thus far was up to competion standard.

From here however our journey began across country through the Virginias towards the greasy heart of chicken country.

Coming Soon. . . . Part 2 The Road to Louisville

No comments: