SAVORY JUICES GREASED WITH RENDERED FAT RUSHED ARDENTLY OUT OF THE MEAT… A NOSTRIL FULL OF AROMA AS A MIXTURE OF CUMIN, CHILI, GARLIC, AND THE IRRESISTABLE SMELL OF CRISPED CHICKEN SKINS SENT ME INTO AN ANGRY SPIRAL OF REGRETS AND RESENTMENTS
In AA they say, there are twelve steps to recovery. Well, this fried chicken is my Step Nine.
Specifically, if you (hopefully) aren’t familiar, this is a stage where the recoveree make direct amends to people whom they had harmed, wherever possible, as a part of the process to obtain emotional balance and closure.
So here I stand, almost two years into my recovery from six traumatic years in Beijing, I am ready to talk about this fried chicken.
To start from the beginning, I first saw these fried chickens inside a supermarket a few blocks away from our apartment in Beijing. Calling that place a supermarket is a gross exaggeration whereas a glorified convenience store would be more appropriate, but for six long years, I passed by that supermarket about once a week on a conservative average, and I consistently dismissed the peculiar stall that was tucked in a dingy corner by the entrance with a sign that read, “Meixiang Fried Chicken“.
Peculiar indeed, not because there was a random fried chicken stall inside a suspicious convenience store, but that as ambiguous as it was, almost everyday around 3pm, there would be a line cued up at its greasy window, as long and meandering as my bafflement. Typically, a line exceeding 15% of the total crowd-size stretching the entire block, is a mathematic proof good enough to send me into investigation, but feeling prejudice towards this entire city in general, I thought either this fried chicken was an understated treasure, or these people were out of their minds.
For six years, I went firmly with the latter.