April 14, 2011

"It's nothing like the way we know it in our community. If you're going to appropriate a dish we treasure, at least get it right."

An Atlantic City chef attacks the International House of Pancakes for serving chicken and waffles.
[Carl Redding] says he learned to make chicken and waffles where most food historians agree it was created 60-plus years ago, at the now-departed Wells Restaurant on Seventh Ave. between 132nd and 133rd Sts.

"When I worked for the Rev. Sharpton, he used to meet Betty Shabazz [Malcolm X's widow] there," says Redding. "They'd meet and I'd sit by myself just luxuriating in the chicken and waffles. It's something everyone uptown knows and likes."
Are there serious issues of authenticity to talk about or is this just a chef who's figured out how to promote his restaurant? The IHOP representative says that "because IHOP has more than 1,500 locations, it can introduce more people to chicken and waffles, 'and maybe some of them will make their way to Redding's... Next time I'm in Atlantic City, I'd like to go there myself.'"

Do fast food restaurants get people interested in a particular dish in a way that leads them to look for better versions of the same food? Or do people develop a taste for the fast-food version and reject the original form of the food? For example, maybe people like a McDonald's hamburger and don't even want a full-scale, old-fashioned hamburger anymore. To them the McDonald's hamburger is the real thing, and they're put off by this bizarre monstrosity served at... wherever hamburgers used to come from. Krazy Jim's!

So maybe Redding must take action:
He'll set up at noon in front of the IHOP on Black Horse Pike in Mays Landing, N.J., to cook and hand out free portions of chicken and waffles, Redding's-style.

Redding stresses, by the way, that IHOP doesn't normally ruffle his feathers. "I eat there," he says. "I love their T-bone steak with pancake breakfast."
Aw, come on. Handing out free food in front of somebody else's restaurant? Is that fair? There's this quasi-civil-rights flavor to this protest that's a bit absurd. Is he saying that white people have their meat-and-breakfast-starch dish and black people have theirs? IHOP can do steak and pancakes but not chicken and waffles?! 

Enough of these squabbles. Let's eat french toast and ham.

53 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I haven't been to the IHOP in the old Starbucks where Althouse once blogged from. Chicken and Waffles is not going to drag me there. IHOP has butchered pancakes too, I'm not sure why Redding isn't complaining about that.

Why go to IHOP when you can go to Mickies or to the Pancake House?

paul a'barge said...

Name dropper.

Guess what. I'm not impressed with the names he dropped.

If I were in a restaurant and Al Sharpton walked in, I would get up and walk out.

Ann Althouse said...

1. I'm eating pancakes right now! Meade made them. Meade always makes them. Most authentically.

2. The first job I ever had, in the summer of 1969, was at the International House of Pancakes. I still have the cufflinks that were part of the uniform.

MadisonMan said...

We had pancakes and bacon for dinner last night. Buttermilk, eggs, oil, flour, cornmeal, flaxseed. Nothing is easier to make.

EDH said...

Let me put on my caucasion Al Sharpton hat:

An obvious conspiracy of cultural imperialism designed to spread bad eating habits and death among the white race.

pbAndj said...

I think they sell thin pancakes w/ lingonberries, which are supposed to be some sort of Scandinavian inspired comestible. Do the Northerners go nuts and rant about this affront? No. And, this guy should get a grip too.

But, if IHOP starts serving Halal Hotcakes--stuffed w/ ham and cheese--they better run for cover.

Henry said...

Okay, how about waffles and chicken?

rhhardin said...

Bob and Ray promoted their International House of Toast.

The Drill SGT said...

Punching up?

themightypuck said...

People get really weird about food. I hate Chipotle because it is a shitty version of a real calmex burritto place. I know tons of people who love Chipotle and I want to take it away from them and force them to dodge heroin hawkers in the mission to get the "real" thing.

Sixty Grit said...
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themightypuck said...

Which suggests it is not just racial but specifically black. Otherwise the Mexicans in LA would have pulled up a taco truck in front of any number of Chipotles.

Also I'm surprised to discover that Prof. Althouse's first job was at age 19. I bet she is taking a narrow definition of the word "job" that devalues the great American entrepreneurial spirit. What no babysitting?

Maguro said...

Just a little shakedown operation, he's hoping IHOP would rather reach into its deep corporate pockets and pay him off than deal with a civil rights brouhaha.

Harry Phartz said...

Bob and Ray kill. I was just listening to their interview with Laurence Welk, and the guy who won Garbageman of the Year. Classic.

And Professor Althouse just casually mentions the petty theft of the IHOP cufflinks, like nothing is going to happen? Lawlessness!

John said...

Is IHOP fast food?

I don't think so. McDs, KFC, Taco Maker, Wendys and so on, yes.

But a restaurant with sit-down table service? Individual menus instead of a menuboard?

No. IHOP is a chain restaurant, it is not "fast food"

I eat in an IHOP a few times a year and never have any problem with service so I don't want to imply that it is slow. It seems about normal for a sit-down restaurant.

Now Waffle House, there is some really good eating and perhaps it counts as fast food though I don't really consider it as such.

There is nothing, NOTHING, as good in gastronomic delights as their hashbrowns, smothered, covered, and everything else. Put 3-4 eggs over easy on top and it is a meal fit for kings.

I'll eat that any time of day, though I may add a piece of chicken if it is supper.

John Henry

pbAndj said...

"1. I'm eating pancakes right now! Meade made them. Meade always makes them. Most authentically. "

About a month ago I dumped pancakes, syrup, and eggs into the keyboard of a macbook. I learned the hard way that these things aren't pancake proof!

Econophile said...

Graze in Madison serves a delicious chicken and waffles dish.

Is there patent protection on menus?

Maybe Redding would advocate something like the French Nomenclature of Origin.

Pogo said...

Geese can fly, but chickens don't get sucked into jet engines.

Unless your aim is pretty good.

Dose of Sanity said...

You tagged a post on chicken and waffles as racial politics?

Hrm...

Pogo said...

The Obama-Clinton breakfast:
Chicken and Waffle.

Ron said...

mmm...just had an omelet with spinach, feta and mushrooms...plus hash browns, bacon and coffee...

Richard Dolan said...

"Aw, come on. Handing out free food in front of somebody else's restaurant? Is that fair?"

Well, what's "unfair" about it? Unlike the civil rights model, it's unsustainable (yesterday's word on everyone's lips) for more than a day or two. So no harm to IHOP's business (probably the opposite). Redding makes his point (whatever it is) and IHOP gets publicity too -- of the "as long as they spell the name right" sort, but still. And the passers-by get free food if they want it. So, who's hurt and what's unfair?

This post is passing judgment on a lot of stuff -- "real thing" hamburgers vs. McD's fake version, civil rights activism (good) vs. commercial self-promotion (bad), heart stoppers for white people vs the the black person's version (not quite sure where the good/bad line is in that one).

Time to lighten up, take a walk and enjoy the sunshine. That will help digest Meade's pancakes too.

CatherineM said...

Watching Mildred Pierce on HBO and she started her restaurant business with Chicken and Waffles. That stuck in my mind...Chicken and Waffles.

The book was from the 30s and she was white...in L.A.

Is that inauthentic?

Lincolntf said...

At the local restaurant I've mentioned at least a few times before, Sweet Potatoes, they serve a delicious dish at Brunch(my wife ordered it once and I appropriated a serving-size share) :

"Sweet Potato Pancakes & Fried Chicken Tenders...........................8.99
Tenders with Apple Marmalade, honey ginger butter, and maple syrup"


The combo sounded odd, but we've developed a full faith in the place so gave it a try. Delicious, and judging by the proprietors, certainly not racist. Unless it's racist for a white couple to eat it?

madAsHell said...

"Why can't I just eat my waffle?"

"Just let me eat my waffle!"

w/v: inallyh - Inallyh we trust

PETER V. BELLA said...

Monte Cristo sanguiches for everyone!

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)




This is one of those debates about “Authenticity”, how important it is, and who decides what’s “authentic.”

Real pearls, real breasts, are held to be “more authentic” and hence “more valuable” than their cultured counter-parts…at least that’s what natural womyn or pearl divers will say.

So too this guy, he claims to be an arbiter of “authentic” and then claims that HIS “chicken and waffles” is more authentic and therefore “better” than IHOP’s….

Me, I’m a “l”ibertarian…Me, I like Christina Hendricks AND Pam Anderson….I might like IHOP’s Chicken and Waffles BETTER than his, or vice versa . But it ought to be based on “taste” or aesthetics…not authenticity. If you like this guys Chicken and Waffles fine, but you can only get them in one place, but if you only want Chicken and Waffles very rarely then by all means use this fellows place. IF, you want Chicken and Waffles more frequently you might try IHOP. And IF, more people eat IHOP’s Chicken and Waffles, yes those become the REAL Chicken and Waffles.

I dislike the ASSUMPTION that Mom and Po will ALWAYS be “better” than the corporate version or rather that mom and Pop are more “authentic” and ergo better, irrespective of taste. It’s the “snob” appeal, The Stuff White People Like/NPR approach to like and dislike…”Oh Ken Burns likes it, I MUST like it too.” Really, why?

Bottom-line: IHOP may make quite passable Chicken and Waffles (My local IHOP doesn’t cook too well so I doubt it, locally) and Pam Anderson can be quite sexy and who cares what some self-appointed “expert” claims about “authenticity?”

Carol_Herman said...

The fried chicken counts! Waffles, for everyone, are pre-mixed. You add water!

The trick to serving great fried chicken, however, is that they are individually browned in cast iron saute sized pans. And, the best fat is lard.

IHOP ain't what it used to be! But it's cheap food. If you want butter used when frying your eggs, you need to go someplace else.

Yes, in Pasadena you can get the best fried chicken, ever!

MayBee said...

HBO just finished airing Mildred Pierce, which starred Kate Winslet as the owner of a Chicken and Waffle House (actually, several houses).

bagoh20 said...
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bagoh20 said...

Between semesters at college, I worked as a bus boy at a very busy boardwalk pancake house in Wildwood, New Jersey.

By the end of the shift I would be covered in syrup, butter, coffee and creamer. Although I washed them every day, I could never get the smell out of the clothes, and it would make me nauseous when I put them on.

After a few weeks of very hard work, I quit for a cleaner job working in a gas station, where back then we still pumped the gas, washed your windows, and checked your oil while you waited. I remember that often women would flash me while I was washing their windows. It was quite a thrill. I was 20. Nobody flashes me anymore, and I don't do windows, but it's negotiable.

Pogo said...

Good cooks copy, great cooks steal.

k*thy said...

Why go to IHOP when you can go to Mickies or to the Pancake House?

Exactly...or Al's.

PJ said...

It's nothing like the way we know it in our community. If you're going to appropriate a dish we treasure, at least get it right.

This seems incoherent. Wouldn't the claim of "appropriation" have been stronger if IHOP's dish had been just like the original? Wouldn't this guy be more likely to lose business (and thus have some basis for feeling aggrieved) if his customers could get the same dish for less down the street?

I don't blame the guy for wanting to take advantage of any interest IHOP may have stirred in the concept of putting chicken on the same plate as a waffle. But dressing that effort up as a claim that he's rectifying some kind of "appropriation" from "our community"? Please.

Sheepman said...

Handing out free food in front of somebody else's restaurant? Is that fair?

In a free market system it is fair and desirable that consumers are aware of differences in quality. Handing out free samples in front of a competitor's restaurant is a savvy way to do so.

bagoh20 said...

IHOP can take your order, cook it, feed you, take your money, and clean up after you before the coffee even wakes up.

Sixty Grit said...
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Alex said...

Another case of a busybodies who want to dictate how other people eat. My artery-clogging habits are my own business!

Michael said...

Althouse inquired and asserted: "Is he saying that white people have their meat-and-breakfast-starch dish and black people have theirs? IHOP can do steak and pancakes but not chicken and waffles?! "

Yes. And he may be right. They will get the chicken wrong, at least at first. I eat in a lot of black owned/operated restaurants catering to people with a taste for a style of cooking that cannot be duplicated in the white owned/operated restaurants, or at least I haven't found it so. I am not sure I would protest about it but if I lived nearby I would definitely try his free offering and might go back for seconds.

Alex said...

Naturally this is a shakedown by the racial hustlers as part of the overall rape-a-nation campaign.

edutcher said...

Pancakes aren't good unless they're in earth tones, as my brother-in-law calls it when they're a tad overdone.

As for the waffles thing, yeah, it's Rainbow Coalition time, to be sure.

Pogo said...

The Obama-Clinton breakfast:
Chicken and Waffle.


Good in all Democrat Administrations.

TML said...

"Tapeheads" with Tim Robbins and John Cusack.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
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Dust Bunny Queen said...
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Dust Bunny Queen said...

Previous comment deleted trashed canned because I didn't look at the original article (mea culpa)

The waffles and chicken looks really good. Why not? We like biscuits with honey with fried chicken? The sweet and salty never fails to be a hit.

Sorry guy, you don't "own" the concept of chicken and waffles. Anyone can make them.

kimsch said...

Back in February just before the primaries in Chicago Jesse Jackson complained about Rahm campaining at the "Chicken and Waffle House" just down the street from Operation Push headquarters.

They have the calorie count of the Chicken and Waffles meal at IHOP right on the menu. I can't remember what it was but googling resulted in 1,100 calories.

wv: pootri

Der Hahn said...

Chicken and waffles (usually stewed chicken rather than fried, and covered in brown gravy rather than syrup) is also a PA Dutch thing.

PaulV said...

It is a fiction that fried chicken and watermelon are black foods. They are southern foods. You are welcome to enjoy.

ricpic said...

IHOP plants the flag of expropriation for white people! Better get ready to pay protection money to PUSH, IHOP.

traditionalguy said...

Chick-fil-A serves its chicken with waffle fries ,which reminds me, it is lunch time.

Sigivald said...

For example, maybe people like a McDonald's hamburger and don't even want a full-scale, old-fashioned hamburger anymore.

Given the ubiquity of hamburgers on restaurant menus, and the popularity of burger-restaurant chains (Fuddruckers, Five Guys, etc.), I don't think that holds water.

Hell, given the difference between a McDonalds burger and a Wendy's burger and a Carl's Jr. burger and a (if you're lucky enough to live in their area) Burgerville burger, it's not like there's even a generic "fast food burger".

(Then again, "authenticity" is a lie. Always.)

peter hoh said...

Creamed chicken and waffles was an infrequent, but much loved, dinner at our house growing up.

peter hoh said...

Der Hahn -- aha! That's where my mom got it from.