Fried Chicken: The Key to Ending Racism? Review of David Chang's "Ugly Delicious"

Whether it's a fancy Chicken & Waffles with Rosemary and Bacon from Hash-House-a-go-go or a 20 piece bucket from KFC, fried chicken is a common symbol of comfort.
That is 2 fried chicken breasts atop 4 pieces of waffle with bacon inside the waffles (X3 orders). Aka the American Dream.

Another American Dream: eating KFC in Kentucky.

It's also something that we stereotype as "black people's favorite food" (along with watermelon) and extremely unhealthy (which it can be). But fried chicken can also a bridge between people and a way to understand other races and culture better, as presented by David Chang in his Netflix series "Ugly Delicious."

Chang (restaurateur, Momofuku), travels to various major cities in the U.S. and around the world eating fried chicken dishes and exploring what fried chicken means to different races and cultures. Chang is joined by various celebrities and chefs as they sample this "ugly" food that fills peoples' bellies in the South, Far East, and West Coast/Pacific Northwest.

With food on my mind after a hot pot feast hosted by my friends Addy and Roy, I expected a food tour with some of the best fried chicken destinations on the planet. Although there were mouth-watering slow-motions shots of fried-golden-goodness, there was equal servings of "woke" realness.

Chang delves into the "ugly" side of food that we avoid confronting, such as how we connote fried chicken with stereotypes and whether cultural appropriation of food is actually appropriate. One moment that really resonated with me was when Chang expressed his anger at white chefs who have repurposed Korean ingredients - but it is a tough line to draw between innovative fusion and disrespecting another culture's cuisine.

Ultimately, food is something that connects us to other people; it is all necessary for us to live and is a way we can understand each other better. Chang shows that even with something as ubiquitous as fried chicken that is interpreted in so many ways, it is also a means to explore, learn, and appreciate different cultures. Breaded poultry in oil may seem like excess cholesterol and an enemy of the people, but beneath its ugliness is the beauty of its potential to bring different races together.


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