On Life-Changing Food & Nashville-Style Hot Chicken

So, did it change your life?” I might ask someone to get an impression of the impact a food or meal had on them.

Life-changing food doesn’t have to take me dancing and buy me new boots; but it does have to make me pause. A version of a life-changing food puts me on a pivot. It makes me think that dish differently or opens my mind to new possibilities. Better yet, life changing food can become the gold standard against which I compare all others. Hopefully it changes my life for the better, but even like Ruth Reichl describes in her book My Kitchen Year, the most unpleasant, overcooked fillet of salmon reminded her of the best and acted as a counterpoint.

“Life-changing,” is a phrase I’ve found myself using a lot, lately. I’ve been thinking about life changing things a lot this week.

Fiona Apple made me want to seek more music that reflected how I felt during my middle school years. Anthony Bourdain made me want to eat things I’d never seen before. Being a tired adult threw me into the loving arms of coffee. Jimmy John’s made me realize that I didn’t actually hate mayonnaise and this one restaurant in Deadwood, SD convinced me that I did actually like shrimp

Jake and I are formally picky eaters who want to try everything, now. 

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We like to try new foods, but want to remain loyal to our favorites too. Sometimes we taste something that makes us want to try no other; I guess you could define this as life-changing. This week I met Chef Rick Lewis’ Nashville-style hot fried chicken at Southern and I guess you could say it changed my life.

In this St. Louis Today article, Chef Lewis demonstrates how he double-marinates the chicken before breading and frying it. Finally, he dips the chicken into a hot sauce oil flavored with habaneros and cayenne. There are different heat levels, but, obviously, I chose the hottest. Mother Cluckin’ it’s called. For me, it was.

The Mother Cluckin’ burned slowly. It didn’t taste spicy for spiciness sake, but very flavorful with a hint of sweetness. Chef Rick Lewis’s hot chicken is the only food in 10 years that’s made me consider reaching for  TUMS. If you know me, that’s quite a compliment. Sometimes I want food to hurt me.

I know that Southern’s hot chicken changed my life because I don’t feel like searching for any other version. I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed.

My fried chicken quest ends. At least for now.

If you visit:
Go early. A parking lot is located in the back. As of January 2, 2016, Southern serves chicken from 11-7 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and until they sell out on Fridays and Saturdays. For those who don’t like spicy food, there is a non-spicy version of fried chicken and other dishes like deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, and sandwiches. We really liked the collard greens, mac and cheese and pickled beets as sides.

Visit their Facebook page for updates. 

7 Comments

  1. It must have been hot if you were reaching for Tums! Wowser. Glad you found a great end to your chicken quest. 🙂

  2. I could just reach through the computer screen and grab some of that chicken! Looks and sounds like it was perfect 🙂

  3. Could not possibly agree more. It’s such a unique burn. Even when I finish, and I’m stuffed, I crave more of that slow, numbing burn. One of the most addictive meals I have ever had.

    Also, I’m highly annoyed that I let the girl at the register talk me out of it when I loudly announced “I’ll take it cluckin.” Even though I assured her I could handle any degree of spice, she recommended I go with Hot the first time, which did have a nice burn. But I will certainly step it up on my next visit.

    Finally, I’d love to try all of those incredible sandwiches. But I just cannot envision a scenario wherein I walk up to that register and order anything not named hot chicken.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Totally addictive! I could feel the cluckin warm my core all day. Good pain:) Agree-the sandwiches really do look good but then we’d want the chicken. Thanks so much Craig!

  4. I love “good” spicy there is a difference. Now I need some of this life changing chicken!

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