The chicken situation
I like chicken as much as the next person I suppose. Even when I was a child growing up in Sandflat I had an appreciation for fried chicken. After church, when we gather to share a potluck meal, chicken was always present. There would be bowls of peas and corn and potato salad and baked beans too, but there would be several varieties of fried chicken. Some of it was fried in quiet kitchens early that morning before services, and some of it was bought shortly after the preacher snapped his Bible shut at one of the many restaurants, delis and service stations about town that sold it. My granny, a wonderful Southern Baptist woman who gave to this world more than she took from it, also loved fried chicken. There was nothing she couldn’t cook. She could put figs up in little Mason jars and make pickles out of cucumbers she grew in her garden too, but she did not fry chicken. She announced it one day like it was a proclamation. And it wasn’t like she couldn’t. She more than knew how. She was raised during the Depression in McIntosh. Back when it was routine for most everyone to go out in the yard and chase down a chicken to chokehold shortly before time to start supper. But I guess somewhere along life’s way between Washington and Marengo County she did the math on it and decided it was cheaper and cleaner to buy it already fried. Being familiar with the chicken the way I am, I knew that a chicken has wings long before I arrived in Wilcox County. It just wasn’t until I moved here that I became so acutely aware of them. I knew they were extremely popular from the number of bones I would see scattered out across the Piggly Wiggly parking lot. It looked like odd confetti. Not that it is limited to there, no, because it’s not. I frequently see them strewn across the Rose’s parking lot too, which makes sense since it neighbors the delicious Jackson’s Fried Chicken. Several service stations serve chicken here too, as do all the restaurants of course. Even the East Pearl Chinese restaurant learned early on how to please the citizens of Wilcox County. They serve all of the old world Chinese classics, and fried chicken wings. They have them on their menu plus offer them on their buffet, both at lunch and dinner. Chicken is something we have in common. And it is not limited by age. When all the kids got out of school for the summer, and their mamas started posting pictures from the end of the year parties, I noticed that both public and private school students seem to like fried chicken. For days now I’ve been trying to catch these bags of wings they have at the Pig and they keep selling out of the things before I get there. The best I can figure – based on the times different friends texted me saying they were in stock and my arriving to nothing – I estimate that Wilcox County is plowing through over a thousand pounds of bagged wings a week. That is over two tons a month in a county that only claims to house about 11,500 people. How many chickens is that per person? Camden is a town that has only four red lights, but at least a dozen other places to buy chicken…and that’s still not enough!