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On November 12, KFC added three new meals made with chicken and waffles to its menu.
The available options are chicken tenders, fried chicken, and a sandwich with Belgian Liège-style waffle buns, along with a side of Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup.
The fried chicken and chicken tenders remain the same as the fast-food’s other chicken menu items, but the Liège-style waffles are sweeter and doughier than expected.
My favorite was the chicken and waffle sandwich, which had just the right balance of spicy and sweet for my taste.
After a trial at locations in Charlotte, North Carolina, this past summer, KFC started serving chicken and waffles nationwide from November 12 and will offer the dishes through December 31. See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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Everyone has a favorite sandwich and a particular way they prepare it — the type of bread, extras, and condiments are chosen to an exacting degree of specification.
Five food historians tell the stories behind a sandwich of their choosing, including the classic peanut butter and jelly and the chow mein sandwich of New England.
Each sandwich’s story tells more about American history than you’d expect — covering themes of immigration, globalization, class, and gender.
Everyone has a favorite sandwich, often prepared to an exacting degree of specification: Turkey or ham? Grilled or toasted? Mayo or mustard? White or whole wheat?
We reached out to five food historians and asked them to tell the story of a sandwich of their choosing. The responses included staples like peanut butter and jelly, as well as regional fare like New England’s chow mein sandwich.
Together, they show how the sandwiches we eat (or used to eat) do more than fill us up during our lunch breaks. In their stories are themes of immigration and globalization, of class and gender, and of resourcefulness and creativity.
A taste of home for working women
Megan Elias, Boston University
The tuna salad sandwich originated from an impulse to conserve, only to become a symbol of excess.
In the 19th century — before the era of supermarkets and cheap groceries — most Americans avoided wasting food. Scraps of chicken, ham or fish from supper would be mixed with mayonnaise and served on lettuce for lunch. Leftovers of celery, pickles and olives — served as supper “relishes” — would also be folded into the mix.
The versions of these salads that incorporated fish tended to use salmon, white fish or trout. Most Americans didn’t cook (or even know of) tuna.
Around the end of the 19th century, middle-class women began to spend more time in public, patronizing department stores, lectures and museums. Since social conventions kept these women out of the saloons where men ate, lunch restaurants opened up to cater to this new clientele. They offered women exactly the kind of foods they had served each other at home: salads. While salads made at home often were composed of leftovers, those at lunch restaurants were made from scratch. Fish and shellfish salads were typical fare.
When further social and economic changes brought women into the public as office and department store workers, they found fish salads waiting for them at the affordable lunch counters patronized by busy urban workers. Unlike the ladies’ lunch, the office lunch hour had time limits. So lunch counters came up with the idea of offering the salads between two pieces of bread, which sped up table turnover and encouraged patrons to get lunch to go.
When canned tuna was introduced in the early 20th century, lunch counters and home cooks could skip the step of cooking a fish and go straight to the salad. But there was downside: The immense popularity of canned tuna led to the growth of a global industry that has severely depleted stocks and led to the unintended slaughter of millions of dolphins. A clever way to use dinner scraps has become a global crisis of conscience and capitalism.
I like mine on toasted rye.
East meets West in Fall River, Massachusetts
New England Bites/Wikimedia Commons
Imogene Lim, Vancouver Island University
“Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein,” Warren Zevon sings in his 1978 hit “Werewolves of London,” a nod to the popular Chinese stir-fried noodle dish.
Chow mein in a sandwich? Is that a real thing?
I was first introduced to the chow mein sandwich while completing my doctorate at Brown University. Even as the child of a Chinatown restaurateur from Vancouver, I viewed the sandwich as something of a mystery. It led to a post-doctoral fellowship and a paper about Chinese entrepreneurship in New England.
The chow mein sandwich is the quintessential “East meets West” food, and it’s largely associated with New England’s Chinese restaurants — specifically, those of Fall River, a city crowded with textile mills near the Rhode Island border.
The sandwich became popular in the 1920s because it was filling and cheap: Workers munched on them in factory canteens, while their kids ate them for lunch in the parish schools, especially on meatless Fridays. It would go on to be available at some “five and dime” lunch counters, like Kresge’s and Woolworth — and even at Nathan’s in Coney Island.
It’s exactly what it sounds like: a sandwich filled with chow mein (deep-fried, flat noodles, topped with a ladle of brown gravy, onions, celery and bean sprouts). If you want to make your own authentic sandwich at home, I recommend using Hoo Mee Chow Mein Mix, which is still made in Fall River. It can be served in a bun (à la sloppy joe) or between sliced white bread, much like a hot turkey sandwich with gravy. The classic meal includes the sandwich, french fries and orange soda.
For those who grew up in the Fall River area, the chow mein sandwich is a reminder of home. Just ask famous chef (and Fall River native) Emeril Legassé, who came up with his own “Fall River chow mein” recipe.
And at one time, Fall River expats living in Los Angeles would hold a “Fall River Day.”
On the menu? Chow mein sandwiches, of course.
A snack for the elites
Paul Freedman, Yale University
Unlike many American food trends of the 1890s, such as the Waldorf salad and chafing dishes, the club sandwich has endured, immune to obsolescence.
The sandwich originated in the country’s stuffy gentlemen’s clubs, which are known — to this day — for a conservatism that includes loyalty to outdated cuisine. (The Wilmington Club in Delaware continues to serve terrapin, while the Philadelphia Club’s specialties include veal and ham pie.) So the club sandwich’s spread to the rest of the population, along with its lasting popularity, is a testament to its inventiveness and appeal.
A two-layer affair, the club sandwich calls for three pieces of toasted bread spread with mayonnaise and filled with chicken or turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato. Usually the sandwich is cut into two triangles and held together with a toothpick stuck in each half.
Some believe it should be eaten with a fork and knife, and its blend of elegance and blandness make the club sandwich a permanent feature of country and city club cuisine.
As far back as 1889, there are references to a Union Club sandwich of turkey or ham on toast. The Saratoga Club-House offered a club sandwich on its menu beginning in 1894.
Interestingly, until the 1920s, sandwiches were identified with ladies’ lunch places that served “dainty” food. The first club sandwich recipe comes from an 1899 book of “salads, sandwiches and chafing-dish dainties,” and its most famous proponent was Wallis Simpson, the American woman whom Edward VIII abdicated the throne of Great Britain to marry.
Nonetheless, an 1889 article from the New York Sun entitled “An Appetizing Sandwich: A Dainty Treat That Has Made a New York Chef Popular” describes the Union Club sandwich as appropriate for a post-theater supper, or something light to be eaten before a nightcap. This was one type of sandwich that men could indulge in, the article seemed to be saying — as long as it wasn’t eaten for lunch.
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