Monday, September 1, 2014

Hot, Hot, Hot: Why Nashville Laughs At Your Spiciest Fried Chicken Through Fiery Tears

The spiciest food that I have ever eaten
At some point -- as I finished eating the chicken wing -- my brain gave clear instructions that I should stand up and run away from the only people who I knew in Nashville.

I should have known there was trouble when the only local had said we had to visit Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish, then announced "I'll just have a soda."  Nashville has a "hot chicken" tradition where lethal quantities of cayenne and other spices are mixed into or spread onto fried chicken.  Bolton's is a concrete bunker of a restaurant where you take out or eat at one of the worn tables.  (See below.)

Overall, this is delicious chicken, well worth an adventure if you visit Nashville.  On the main part of the breast, the ratio of moist white meat balanced out the crazy spice in the breading.

Bon Chon's wings and pickled radish
But eating the wing first was murder.  The red-stained breading was as thick as the meat on a wing.  Spice overwhelmed everything and filled my mouth.  I puffed out breaths.  I drank down Diet Coke.  I ate the pickles and white bread.  I actually had the urge to run away, flee the chicken, find ice water to dunk my  head.

But I'm a guy.  The other two guys kept eating their chicken, so I kept going as well.  Our local stole a few slices, but it was the travelers who finished off the "sandwiches" and felt like they had their taste of Nashville.  I felt flames in my stomach for the rest of the day.  And that was Bolton's medium chicken.  I hadn't been crazy enough to start with the hot or the extra hot.

For local chicken, the spiciest probably comes from the kitchen at Bon Chon Chicken in Ellicott City.  That's a terrific spot.  They also serve pickled radish as a side dish.  Those cubes do wonders to cool off a fiery mouth  tongue.  The hottest local food is probably the chili naan at Tandoor Grill on Johns Hopkins Road, although a friend said that bread had been toned down a bit the last time that he ordered.

Hot chicken at Bolton's reminded me that I need to return for pit beef at Pioneer Pit Beef in Woodlawn.  That's our answer to a local delicacy cooked in shacks and concrete bunkers.  Ironically, I think my last lunch on Pioneer's picnic tables was with my Nashville buddy.  For the record, I ate exactly what I told him to eat.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds excellent / deadly :)

My only addition would be that I think the hot wings from Chick N Friends may surpass Bon Chon in spiciness. The few times I've gotten it I have to take a break after a wing or two, but the flavor is excellent.