Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Southern Comfort: Filling Up On Chick-Fil-A

Would you travel over forty miles for fast food?

Perhaps when you read the following in a thick Southern drawl, you'll agree to the above question.

Sweeet Teeah
Frrhied Chicken Saanweches

Well, I answered "yes" to the above question, and travel over forty miles I did, embarking from San Francisco for an hour-long voyage to a generic food court inside a random mall in California's suburbia. When I arrived, I fought against the swarming, pressing throng of holiday shoppers to acquire a seat in a lipstick-red booth at the fast food gem my Southern companions call "chick fillet".

The forty miles was well worth it. The sandwich I ordered was the "archetypal Chick-A-Fil sandwich," and it was surprisingly simple. There were no round slices of crisp dill pickle, no goopy slathering of thickened mayonnaise, no artful squeeze of tawny mustard. There weren't even niblets of reconstituted onions. Rather, the sandwich was naked in all its full glory and barren of any sloppy or disheveled condiments. The barebone components included a plain hamburger bun (not even decorated with little ornaments of sesame seed) that had been buttered and toasted, two leaves of verdant lettuce that were so curly that the bun couldn't even sit tightly atop the sandwich, a crimson slice of ripened tomato, and best of all: a thick piece of tender chicken breast meat, bursting with juices and deep-fried until the breading had formed a spicy, crispy outside crust.

To top my sandwich (and stomach) off, my Georgia peach friend had won two gargantuan, first-prize party platters of chicken nuggets from the online sweepstakes drawing, and she generously shared her winnings with our group of over ten people.

We dunked and doused the little nugget torpedos into the thick and honeyed elixir known as "Polynesian Sauce." If you've never tried this dipping nectar (to steal the phrase from my Southern friend), it tastes like sweet and sour sauce, but with flavors that are much more grandiose.

The motley group at our two tables also feasted on crispy grids of waffle-cut fries with crackly potato skin borders which literally melted away in our mouths.

After our meal and our time together, we realized we had satisfied the purpose of our quest. Yes, it is true that we defeated the purpose of "fast" food, but our lengthy journey was more than redeemed.

My lesson from Chick-Fil-A: Southern comfort doesn't just come in a bottle.


  1. Oh, I love the look of those waffle-cut fries and the chicken nuggets. It's 10:35am and I've just had a bowl of two-minute noodles and a cup of tea but now I want something deep-fried! :-P

    Maybe I will have to wander up to the fish and chip shop later.

  2. Hi PE - I worked in Atlanta for over a year...and one of the Guys I worked with loved CFL so much he used to eat there almost every day....and it was in the Hospital Cafeteria Food Court. I, nor the Missus have ever developed a taste for Chik-Fil A, but everytime I see or hear of it, I think of him! Amazing...everyday, 5 days a week!

  3. We have no such eatery in the North. I guess on our next trip to California we'll have to find out to taste that delicious looking chicken!

  4. I had my first Chick-a-Fil earlier this year in Virgina. Definitely worth the hype :)

  5. Ah Chik-Fil-A! One of the few fast food joints I love and frequent. There's one within walking distance from my home. And one a few blocks away from my work! And it's taking over all the languishing Krispy Kremes all over So. Cal., like the way those agents in the Matrix takes over humans, but in a good way.

    Sucks that you have to drive 40 miles to get your fix, but if you ever find yourself there during breakfast hours, you MUST try their Chicken Minis (I think that's what it's called). Little fluffy buns made of biscuit batter, brushed with maple syrup, stuffed with a bigger version oftheir chicken nugget. Oh man. So good!

    Also, all through December they are giving away a different breakfast item free every Friday morning!

    OK...too excited. Must calm down!

  6. ohgod chick-fil-a is one of my favorite fast food joints. i miss it so much. apparently there is ONE here in nyc, tucked away in the dining halls of nyu. i'm not even sure if you can get in there without a student id.

  7. You're right The Food Pornographer, two-minute noodles and tea need to be supplemented with "that which is deep fried!"

    I actually am just like you Kirk K, I thought Chick-Fil-A was pretty tasty, but not to the level of my diehard Atlanta friends who were dedicated Chick-Fil-A fanatics! I don't think I'll make that trek again, but I thought it was great fast food.

    They don't have many of these in Northern California Rachel, but Chick-Fil-A is much more prominent in the South and there were even a few in Arizona.

    I completely agree Agent 713, the chicken I ate was moist, supple, and very good. I can see why it is hyped as a tasty fast food place.

    Whoa, I didn't know there were that many in Southern California Elmo Monster! The logo looked familiar to me, but I had never eaten at one until recently. And free food? Thousands of thanks for the great tip!!

    There also is one in the student union at ASU too Pink Nest! I think that was the first time that I ever saw Chick-Fil-A!

  8. Oh. Oh oh OH. Chick-Fil-A, how I miss you. The reason you don't understand the devotion Georgians--current and displaced--have for that chain is because you've never had the pleasure, nay the HONOR of eating breakfast there. There is no finer way to start the day than with a Chicken Biscuit. [That being their classic fried chicken breast on a buttered, flaky biscuit. That's it. No other additions or toppings or condiments. Just pure and simple artery clogging goodness.]

  9. Where did you go? Sounds like you might have wandered into my old stomping grounds in the Bay Area.

    - Chubbypanda

  10. I haven't had Chick Fil-A since I was working at the SEC in D.C.! Fess up! Where is it? =P

  11. wow! i'm really behind on the daily posting readings!! although i grew up on Chick-fil-a, the trip we took together was hands down the best Chick-fil-a visit I've had in my life. Of course, this is largely due to the fact that I had the priviledge of riding in your car and that I was able to share my proudest piece of Southern history with my favorite gal (her name is PE, of course)!

  12. wow.... I had no idea Chick Fil-A was a southern thing... O_O Also never thought anyone would view it as so exotic lol ! =) Guess you take for granted what is everywhere!

  13. Haha, that is true Jinxie, I haven't ever had the honor of eating breakfast at Chick-Fil-A, but your description makes it sounds like it would be worth the drive for me to go my nearest Chick-Fil-A to try it!

    Chubby Panda and Alfred, I went to the mall in Fairfield, California. If I'm correct, I don't think that is very close to where you used to live Chubby Panda, but if you ever want to go when you're up in the Bay Area, I'll be glad to accompany you and Kat!

    That is okay about being behind on reading the postings Jinerous, I am behind on writing postings! (I just came back to SF after a nice week-long vacation.) Hope to see you this year (specifically, this Friday) and that you had a wonderful Christmas with your family!

    If it wasn't for my Georgia friends Lea, I wouldn't know that it is a Southern phenomenon either! But I do appreciate learning about its Southern heritage (and flavor)!

  14. i live in alabama and i am 17. i remember the first time i went to chik-fil-a and i was disappointed by the look of the plain sandwich. instead, i got a wrap and tried my brothers sandwich. i was not happy with my choice and very happy with his. being the good older brother he is, he traded with me. i guess you can also say, "never judge food by its looks." instead of cover! :]

  15. I know exactly what you mean Julie, because I felt that way when I first saw their chicken sandwich--it didn't look that special. However, once I took one bite, I understood the Southern adoration for Chick-Fil-A! Thanks for sharing your story, and that's quite a generous brother you have!

  16. Oh Yeah! Great blog. On my way to the cooler right now. Thanks for the insatiable watering of my mouth! Check me out if you have the time.

  17. Oh you're killing me with the photos! I fell in deep, deep love with Chik-fil-A on a visit to VA. They are nowhere to be found in MN. I even took my obsession overboard and e-mail Chik-fil-A to see if they would ever come here. Sadly, no. I'd have to drive about 8 hours to get the sandwich that has won my heart... believe me, I've thought about it!

  18. I come from a small town in Kentucky and I never got to experience Chick Fil-A until I got to college but I love it! The food is great and better yet, they are one of the few fast food restaurants I know of that serve sweet tea! I also think it's kinda neat, (you probably already know this) they are also one of the few restaurants that are closed on Sundays.

  19. yowza, I had no idea! I am a chick-fil-A girl from way back in the days when I worked at Del Amo Mall in socal back in the stone age. I am so excited because I'm going to Scottsdale next week and am looking forward to eating chickin minis for breakfast every day. Ta, see you soon!


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