Posts Tagged ‘chicken wings’

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 49: ‘Scoville’

March 31, 2018

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Wing King Drew Cerza was originally on the boards all the way back in 2014.  There was a massive scheduling issue though, as Drew had a press conference the same day.  So we finally got around to making it happen this month and Cerza did not disappoint.  The founder of the National Buffalo Wing Festival was a real sport with my line of questioning, he was charming and he was genuinely as interested in chicken wings as I am.  As someone who’s had chicken wings every single week since I was 17, Drew’s Festival is right up my alley.  Co Host Matt Sampson also saved the day by filling the Hot Seat on short notice, so it turned into a pretty damned entertaining episode.  And for those who don’t know, ‘Scoville’ is the official heat scale for spicy foods and peppers named after the man who researched it.  Here it is:

Thanks to Drew, Sampson, and of course producer Richard Wicka for holding it all together.  #BigWordsVideo is taking the month of April off, so have a Happy Easter and we’ll see you in May!

Tom

 

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Big Words Video 49.1: WingFest Promo Teaser

March 30, 2018

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This Bonus clip is really just a glorified ad, but it’s a really tantalizing montage for WingFest.  I’m not really sure what else to say about it.  I’ve gone, I’ve eaten and I’ve had a great time.  If you want a sampler platter of WingFest or if you’ve never been, this should answer all of your burning questions:

Henry Gale was originally cast to Co Host for this episode, and we had a really neat idea, but things fell through and thankfully Matt Sampson came through in the interim.  Some day we might still try that idea, although I’m not sure how it would work with a different guest.  At any rate, KINDLY SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube Channel for bonus clips, every single episode in the order it was intended for and other bonus content.

#BigWordsVideo is taking the month of April off, but we’ll see you at the beginning of May.

Tom

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Dante’s Double

March 1, 2016

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You could fill Lake Erie with the amount of hot sauce I’ve ingested.

Nothing would live, grow or thrive there, so basically, it would be the same lake. I’ve been eating chicken wings at least once a week since I was around 17. Technically, chicken fingers were my gateway poultry. My buddy Ron and I got together every week to play video games and we commemorated the event with chicken fingers. And hot sauce. When I got my first apartment, I got my first fryer. Shortly thereafter, I gained about 40 pounds. Studies show that those two events were interconnected somehow. With no self control and the understanding that I was too lazy to deal with the mess of making wings at home, a new tradition was born: wings once a week. This is the point where I could say ‘A hero is born.’ or ‘This is the stuff of legend.’, but my artistic license expired yesterday. It’s best in this situation to borrow from the poorly named 1980’s Fred Ward star vehicle Remo Williams and go with ‘The Adventure Begins’. Cinephile Note: The adventure began and ended with that horrible movie. Let’s get back to the wings…

There are a lot of things that Buffalonians lay claim to: losing at football, losing at hockey on a technicality, losing on ‘Best Places To Live’…you get the picture. Chicken wings really did originate in Buffalo though, at the famous Anchor Bar in the city. Chicken wings happen to be the one thing about Buffalo I embrace. In the rest of the country they travel under the nom de plume of ‘Party Wings’ (makes sense), ‘Hot Wings’ (I like to use that one because it drives my boss into a fit of rage) and yes, ‘Buffalo Wings’. Hot Tip: If they’re listed as ‘Buffalo Wings’ on a menu, you’re probably at a chain restaurant that doesn’t have the faintest idea how to make chicken wings and you’ll end up with a soggy, buttery embarrassment in a plastic basket. ‘Buttery Embarrassment’ also happens to be how I refer to the loss of my virginity. Chicken wings are deceptively simple in their execution. Cook until crispy, douse in hot sauce with a fire hose and mix with butter for those with indigestion.

Around here, the base hot sauce is Frank’s Red Hot. I was not paid for that endorsement, but would like to be. Most places use Frank’s. In the rest of the country I’ve seen diners that give you a 2 oz. shooter of Tabasco for 30 chicken wings (I’m not sure how that would even work), Sriracha (which I’ve never had but would like to try) along the southern border and a lot of sad kitchen-made pastes that were more ketchup than anything else. Spoiler Alert: Ketchup does not resemble hot sauce in any way, shape and especially not form. My palate is so accustomed to Frank’s Red Hot that I’ve gone off in search of other strains of sauce. As a hot sauce enthusiast, you build up a tolerance to heat over time. Useful Factoid: A unit of heat with peppers is measured in ‘Scovilles’, whichb were named after the inventor of the system.

Unlike the rest of my family, I have the constitution of a billy goat. My older brother gets an upset stomach after oatmeal and my younger brother chews on Tums like they’re Tic Tacs. I was not paid for either of those endorsements, but would begrudgingly accept payment in the form of check, money order or chicken wings. By the time I was 25 or so, I’d worked my way up from Medium wings (half butter, half hot sauce) to hot wings (all hot sauce) to more explosive options. Sauces that incorporated jalepeno peppers (they deliver that extra mule kick to your mouth at the end of every bite) habanero peppers (which add a very distinct flavor to the sauce while incinerating your insides) and eventually, ghost peppers. Ghost peppers are no joke. On the Scoville scale, ghost peppers reside somewhere in the vicinity of Dante’s final circle of hell, if that circle included screaming, crying and praying on the toilet all at the same time.

Many argue that the hotter wings that are available aren’t enjoyable. While there is a small subsection of guys who feel the need to prove their masculinity by devouring wings they normally can’t handle, often can’t handle during their demonstration, and definitely won’t handle ever again without a medical staff on standby, some of us have worked our way up to it. Crying is a factor. It’s more of a chemical reaction than an emotional catharsis. It also takes place if you happen to wipe your eyes with the same napkin you used to wipe your sauce-spotted hands with. Or if you don’t wash your hands and scratch your eye hours later. Don’t do this with ghost peppers. Ghost pepper sauces will make you their bitch. Plain and simple.

I hate to say it, but I may have reached an age where I have to start traveling down the heat index. My endurance with the hotter sauces may have reached its apex. For every cause there is an effect. That, and I can’t imagine carrying an IV of blue cheese around with a stainless steel diaper when I’m 50. It’s time to put on the brakes a bit. Blue cheese is for punks. It’s an easy way out of the heat that serves to mask or neutralize it. Milk neutralizes the pain, too. I prefer soda. My Buffalo brethren insist it is called pop. They’re wrong. That’s neither here nor there, though. I like a nice cold glass of Diet Dr. Pepper with my wings. I was not paid or coerced by the good people at the Diet Dr. Pepper bottling plant, but would feign refusal and quickly accept large monetary gifts in the form of gold doubloons or solid ingots stacked in a triangular fashion.

Nowadays, I order a double (20) of wings every Thursday because you get a price break per wing at 20 and I can always finish them off for an additional meal time. The additional meal time may take place before I get up from the table the first time. There’s a great debate between drums (drumsticks) or flats (the actual wings) with solid arguments for both. Drums are easy to eat in public and they tend to crisp up better if you prefer yours crispy. I’m a flats man. My dad was a flats man and his father before him. We’re flats people. Honestly though, I like flats because they’re more tender, they soak up more sauce, they taste better on the reheat and they don’t have as much gristle as the drums. Believe me, I’ve done the research.

By a stroke of luck (and the one good genetic card dealt to me), my severe height has cancelled out any blood pressure issues that might accompany someone who eats a double of wings every week. It’s right on par. If I were a superhero, that would be my super power: Slightly Average Blood Pressure. Villains everywhere would tremble at the sight of my triage. I’ve been training for this all my life. Now I just need an outfit that’s stain resistant to the corrosive concoctions I crave.

Fired up,
Tom Waters

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Big Words Video @Wing Fest 2015

September 7, 2015

The show has a brief history of poor camerawork in the field.  These two clips are further illustration of same.  I spent the day at Buffalo Wing Fest with two of the Mikes that I know.  While my Sony PJ340 is so easy a child could operate it, unfortunately, I did not have a small child on hand to operate the camera.  Two of the four clips we staged were salvaged while the other two clips, were, technically speaking, never recorded.  We did have a great time at Wing Fest.  One of these days I’ll have a series of pretty, competent clips for an event I’m at in a Press-Like capacity.  Today wasn’t the day.  Thanks are in order to Wing King Drew Cerza for the comp passes.  We’ll do better next time.  Possibly.

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‘Genetically Mortified’ from the upcoming book Travesty

August 3, 2015

I have lost the will to cook.

Now that I’m single again, I don’t have the initiative to prepare, cook and serve full meals. It doesn’t really make sense to me. I used to watch cooking shows morning, noon and night, research recipes and conjure up my own concoctions. There’s no point now. It’s very tough to cook for just one person, so I don’t. When I have my son, I somehow summon the willpower to make one of the four foods that he’s willing to eat (he’s difficult to please, which he subsequently gets from his mother), but the rest of the time my dinner could either be starch and grease out of a bag or a handful of potato chips and half of a flat diet soda.
I’m not sure if I was ever a ‘Foodie’ because I don’t know what that term means, aside from being a pleasant euphemism for ‘Morbidly Obese People Who Can Afford Rich & Exotic Foodstuffs’. ‘Foodie’ is a popular identifier for many, and I think it implies that someone is well-traveled when it comes to cuisine, or that they take extra care and caution to select only the finest ingredients for their palate. Everyone I know who identifies with the term Foodie is 347 pounds, with the singular exception of Food Network Host Giada Delaurentis, who looks like either a lit Jack-O-Lantern or a grinning jackal depending on the quality of the lighting.

I can identify more with being a glutton, which is an extrapolation of being a middle child. I grew up during dinner time with the knowledge that if I didn’t eat quickly, the food might be gone. As a result of this, I usually eat as if there’s a timed countdown and/or a gun to my head. Sometimes I chew. I remember reading a biography about John Lennon and learning that he went through a phase of chewing everything 37 or 38 times before swallowing in an effort to metabolize and fully taste the food while he was eating. I don’t have time for that nonsense.

These days my diet (like most of my life) has been oversimplified. I eat supermarket muffins every morning because that’s one less choice to make when I get up in the morning. For lunch, I consume two pounds of cold cuts making man-sized sandwiches with half a bottle of mustard per sandwich and a slice of cheese for each side of white bread. The guys at work make fun of me for preparing sandwiches of Dagwood proportions, but this is what I feel sandwiches should be. Dinner is my wild card. A great majority of the time I buy bagged rice meals (which contain 3000% of my weekly sodium intake, which is a relief because the salt licks I was relying on have really skyrocketed in recent years due to salt lick speculation in the stock market). The bagged rice meals are often on sale 10 for $10. So that’s about a dollar a week for dinner and a dollar per breakfast by my calculations (carrying the one squared and cubed).

Once a week (minimum), I eat 20 chicken wings for dinner. I’ve been doing that since I was 17. Every week. Depending on what part of the country you live in, they’re known as either ‘Buffalo Wings’ (which isn’t even a thing that exists in reality), ‘Party Wings’ (not sure how that term originated) or ‘Hot Wings’ (which at least makes sense). I typically order wings that are termed ‘Suicide’, ‘Death’, ‘Extra Extra Extra Hot’, or wings accompanied by an asterisked disclaimer advising you to stock toilet paper in your freezer for later that day as well as a silver bullet, Do Not Resuscitate paperwork and a crucifix over the toilet. I’m very fortunate in that I have a digestive system akin to a Billy goat, meaning that I can gnaw on tin cans for fun and profit in my spare time. Actually, it just means that I’ve been grazing on ‘Hot Wings’ for over twenty years now and I still don’t know what heartburn feels like. Trust me when I say that that’s the one positive gene trait I inherited.

I’m at the point with fast food and genetically modified foods where I don’t want to know more than I already do. If I read one more thing about pink goo being injected into reconstituted chicken tenders or wheat that’s sprayed with cancer in a test tube, I feel like I’ll reach a tipping point where I’ll be forced to make a major lifestyle change, and I’m entirely too lazy for that. After stumbling onto a few articles about the organic food movement and about how many non-food stuffs go into a to-go bag, I really don’t want to learn any more. Perhaps my hamburger is hosed off with aborted fetuses before sitting under a heat lamp for a month and then being passed through the drive-through window by a teenager who rinsed his hands in the slop bucket where E. Coli was born and originated from, but ignorance is bliss as far as I’m concerned. And from what I’ve learned about diet sodas, I could be dead before I finish writing this essay.

My diet is deplorable, but that’s an upgrade from downright godawful. I suppose I’m old enough to accept that moderation is not even moderately anywhere near or on my dinner table and that I tried the whole meat vs. carbs Battle For The Belt and I like them too much to root for just one. At my current rate of progress, I should be growing my own bean sprouts and filtering my drinking water through an old gym sock in approximately 128 more years. Fortunately, I practice a habanero hot sauce cleanse once a week. Rectally.

You’re welcome for the visual,
Tom Waters

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Completely Clueless: Duff’s Wings On Dick Road Couldn’t Buy A Clue With A Free Gift Card & A Hundred Bucks

September 9, 2011

Back around November of 2009, Duff’s Wings opened a new location on Dick Rd. in Cheektowaga.  I’d never had their wings but (as an aficionado), people had been telling me about them for years.  You probably know by now how passionate I am about chicken wings.  For the last twenty years my buddy Ron and I have been getting a double of wings every Sunday like clockwork, so when they opened up in Cheektowaga, we decided to try them out.  We fell in love with the sauce and the size of the wings were fantastic.  We ordered them every single Sunday like clockwork.

Flash forward to around June of 2010.  President Obama chose the Dick Rd. location to try out what Buffalo had to offer and the ‘Hottie with a smoking body’ news story was born.  After that, Ron and I never got an accurate order.  For seven straight months beforehand we ordered a double of wings (ten flats with Suicide, ten drums Hot) and they never got it wrong.  After the Obama visit, they couldn’t seem to get anything right.  Both of us adhere to routine, so we kept ordering for another month or so.  Then we gave up.

Every couple of months I get a hankering for their Suicide Sauce and fool myself into thinking that they’ve righted the ship.  They haven’t.  I ordered a double of wings this evening and asked for mostly flats Suicide Hot and Saucy.  I got home and found a single of wings Hot and a single of wings Suicide and they were all Extra Crispy.  Unbelievable.

Most popular franchises are at least consistently mediocre and that’s why they keep branching out.  Duff’s Wings can’t even pull that off.  Duff’s has gotten 100% of my orders wrong since mid-2010.  Not even one order has been correct.  As a bar reviewer for the Buffalo News since 2007, I’ve been conditioned to support local and avoid chains.  Here’s another experience to reinforce it.

Duff’s on Dick Road needs either new management or a staff that knows how to clean out their ears with Q-Tips before they take a phone order.  I’m done with that location, I’m done with their wings and I’m done with the entire franchise.  You’ve fucked up your last order with me.  In the short run, that doesn’t matter since they continue to fill the restaurant with tourists eager to walk in the footsteps of our current president.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that restaurant trends change, and some day people will just stop showing up.  That’s when you learn to depend on your regulars, and if you don’t take care of your regulars, you might as well close your doors.

I look forward to the day that Duff’s closes their doors in Cheektowaga.  They haven’t lifted a finger to go above or beyond and they haven’t even approached the bare minimum of competence where I’m concerned.  In a city full of places that cook chicken wings well along with restaurants that make things the same way every time and actually write an order down and cook it correctly every single time, they’re playing Russian Roulette with the company’s profits.

Buying my wings everywhere else from now on,

Tom Waters

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