In Search of the Great Chicken Fried Steak.

Shrimper, Nac Sevin. December 31, 2008.  Louisiana

Shrimper, Nac Sevin. December 31, 2008. Louisiana. ©Eli Reichman, All Rights Reserved.

part I

Seeking common ground.

The words cascade down like a cacophony of bricks shattering a piece of treasured glass ~ fear, black, white, love, God, doubt, morals, learn, equality, trust, wisdom, prejudice, teach, future, children… are we listening, America?

In college, my roommate John Pike, introduced me to the tasty Chicken Fried Steak and cream gravy.  Given our impoverished student status, eating a Chicken Fry in the morning provided all the fuel one needed to be left satisfied for a day.  I learned to love that meal.  Ever since, I’ve been in search of a great Chicken Fried Steak.  It has become an obsession of sorts.

The Chicken Fried Steak hails from a rather humble origin.  A tough cut of meat is made edible by repeatedly pounding it into tender submission, followed by a ritualistic dousing in milk.  The softened meat is then blanketed with an impenetrable coat of flour and the concoction is finished off by a quick, deep fry in a vat of fiery oil.  A true American classic, it’s the working man’s entree.

Through the years photography is always leading me down obscure county roads and an endless maze of metropolitan thoroughfares, revealing America’s unique cultural patchwork.

We, of differing races and creed, are woven together through a simple series of intersecting geographic lines and yet, we still strive to build a perfected union.  But, the complexity of issues which lay ahead makes it difficult to remain firmly rooted upon that path.  It is this indelicate composition of our national quilt that threatens to splinter us into even greater contentious and dispirited factions.

Do we share a universal thread strong enough to overcome this dissidence or are we destined to move in a new, uncharted direction?  No doubt, these are challenging times.

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9 thoughts on “In Search of the Great Chicken Fried Steak.

  1. Great site this eliphoto.wordpress.com and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor :)

  2. Eli,

    What a great story!! I just talked to local chef, Dakota, here in sunny Salida CO, and he told me that we have do not have a good CFS in our valley. But he will pass on a recipe with the “key” to making it. Perhaps when you visit we can have our own CFS gathering and see who we attract; create our own Americana in our humble valley.

    All the best

  3. Brilliant and I’m hungry now for more CFS.

    From Kansas City, to New York to a island hut in St. Thomas…you’ve nailed the conversation. I’ve had some great CFS even in Puerto Rico. They just call it an empanada frito.

    Its the desire to eat, drink and define or bring to the plate our commonalities that make our country unique and so very blessed.

    Congrats, I look to read and seeing, reading and hearing more-

    blessings-

  4. Back in my early days in NYC (early ’80s) there was a restaurant in the Village that served an excellent CFS with gravy, mashed potatoes, collard greens—my mouth is watering. can’t remember name of place and I’m sure it’s long gone, but I can still taste that CFS.

    Great CFS in NYC, ain’t America great!

  5. Eli, I have had only one CFS in my lifetime… some funky roadside place in Idaho, between Boise and Salt Lake CIty. Don’t remember the name. Look forward to reading your blog.

  6. Excellent. I look forward to reading more. As an American, born and raised in a liberal college town, you may find it interesting that I have never had a CFS. Obviously I will now rush out to find one for lunch. Stay tuned. Nice work Eli. Solid project. b

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