I somehow managed to live the first 31 years of my life without even knowing of the existence of this American delicacy, the supremely sophisticated culinary pairing of fried chicken, waffles, and maple syrup known simply as “chicken and waffles.”
I think the first time I ever heard of chicken and waffles was last year, when a friend of mine from Chicago told me there is a restaurant in his hometown specializing in this odd sweet-and-salty duo. Then, withing 48 hours of arriving in the US, I came face-to-face with this American specialty at my other friend’s graduation party in San Diego, where I memorably lost my chicken-and-waffle virginity. I’ll never forget that night.
Chicken and waffles is just so wrong, and yet so right. To those readers who remain perplexed, it is exactly what it says on the tin: fried chicken, served on top of a waffle, and doused with syrup and/or butter. Those readers might have now progressed from “perplexed” to “disturbed.” But hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – this grub is going to rock your world. It really is that good.
Similar to red velvet cake, the origins of chicken and waffles remain a bit of a mystery. It is usually perceived as a southern dish, or an African American tradition. But the sources I found online suggested that it originated in Harlem, Los Angeles, or even Pennsylvania Dutch country. We may never get to the bottom of the mystery of where chicken and waffles come from. But the one thing that remains beyond doubt is where they end up: our stomachs.