Honestly, I had never heard of Nashville Hot Chicken until KFC started advertising it (for a limited time). But people who’ve lived or spent considerable time Nashville sing its praises. The common experience is that you love it while you’re eating it, then it causes pain, then you dream of eating it again. For around 80 years, several restaurants in Nashville served hot chicken, with slightly varying recipes. But in the past few years, it’s become a phenomena, so much that foodies make pilgrimages to Nashville, Tennessee, to eat chicken. How did the dish come about in the first place?
The story remains such a foundational part of hot chicken’s allure that it bears repeating (and, frankly, it never gets old): Back in the 1930s, there was a man named Thornton Prince, who had a reputation around town as a serial philanderer. His girlfriend at the time, sick of his shit and spending her nights alone, decided to do something about it. After a long night out, Prince came home to breakfast. His girlfriend made fried chicken, his favorite. But before serving it, she caked on the most volatile spices she had in the pantry — presumably cayenne pepper and mustard seed, among other things. If it didn’t kill him, at least he would reevaluate his life choices. He didn’t do either — Prince fell harder for the over-spiced piece of chicken than he did for any woman he’d ever courted. Prince implored her to make it for his family and friends — they all loved it, too.
An act of revenge became a neighborhood treasure, and Nashville’s one true indigenous food. The identity of Prince’s girlfriend (the real innovator here) has been lost to time, but the fearful flashes of mortality that hot chicken eaters have experienced for more than 80 years gives a particular angel in heaven her wings.
Danny Chau ate hot chicken at three different Nashville restaurants, all well-known for their hot chicken. He tells the story of each experience, and rates the food for those who may want to follow. -via Digg