Family folk recipe

My informant told me about an unwritten recipe that her mother taught her when she was younger, and also mentioned that her mother learned the recipe from their African-American house servant, Maddie Lee, when she was growing up in Savannah, Georgia. The recipe itself is simple and easy to remember. It has since become a family recipe, and the majority of her sisters know how to make Maddie Lee’s fried chicken from memory.

“Place the chicken in ice water in the fridge for an hour or so. Place a couple of cups of flour in a brown paper bag, add some salt (a few teaspoons) and pepper (a teaspoon or so). Shake to mix. Take chicken out of ice water and pat dry. Place chicken a few pieces at a time in the bag and shake to coat. Fry the chicken in hot but not smoking oil in a skillet–a #9 iron skillet that has already been cured is best. Only turn once! Drain on paper bags you have split open for the purpose.”

This type of folk recipe has always been really interesting to me. The recipe itself is very simple, easy to remember, and easy to pass on, meaning that many people can learn the recipe with little trouble. In addition, there are few materials needed for the successful completion of the recipe. Southern food is a type of culture in itself, and fried chicken is one of the staples; basically, this means that members of my informant’s family can continue passing on their culture to their children, regardless of whether or not they remain in Savannah.