You are no longer allowed to wear white pants. Let’s hope you savored your last chance at white jeans last week. The television channels are competing with multiple pro preseason games, the SEC has begun and I’m about to attend my first high school game, mainly to see my eldest shred the trumpet at halftime.
September holds for us those last-chance hurricanes, threatening to disrupt the beginning of football season as summer unofficially comes to a close. Beach bods are about to turn into dad bods as soon as sweaters and jeans replace tanks and shorts. And while people are arguing over pumpkin spiced lattes being the drink of fall or the disgusting waste of city water that it is, others are practicing their “Roll Tides” and “War Eagles.” Some of us are getting into the swing of social studies homework. By that I mean chicken wings.
Yes, chicken wings. The most social of all the football food groups. You were thinking maybe chips and dip? Nah. All it takes is one uncouth party pooper to double-dip his fever blister-infected tortilla into that crock of shareable cheese to bring that social dish to a halt. You may as well have bled into the ketchup. Wings are what bring us together on those football nights.
The original Buffalo wing was nothing more than a drumette or flapper fried nude and tossed in a mixture of butter and hot sauce. Then a group of Bills fans stood around a table and painted the walls red. It was the yankee contribution to the culinary world.
Had it originated in the Deep South, it surely would have been a dish of battered wings before sweet cream butter and Tabasco entered the picture. We could’ve had Waynesboro wings if Mississippi Fried Chicken (near the intersection of highways 84 and 45) had made its mark early on. All they needed was a pro team. It even has a better, alliterative ring to it than Buffalo.
If it had been Memphis, we’d be eating barbecue wings right now, and I do, but they don’t grip my heart figuratively and literally the way fried wings do. Buffalo suits me fine. It’s simple. It’s keto-friendly. Who knew we could lose weight on a diet of chicken wings, sausage and cheese? There is a problem, though. If I’m eating wings, my preferred side is French fries. Somebody has to sop up the leftover sauce, and it won’t be a biscuit this go-round.
Butch Cassidy’s has been a chicken wing leader in this town for two decades. I like that they commit to one flavor. There is no mild, medium or hot here. It’s just what is thought to be the perfect amount of heat for owner Roy Seewer. The buttery sauce gets all over you if you aren’t careful. There is the option of “mistake wings,” where the wings are fried, sauced and briefly fried again for a crispy drier exterior. Both are game-winners. It’s a great bar to yell either “Who Dat?” or “Roll Tide,” but they will let just about anyone in if you’re polite.
It sure is hard to beat Heroes. If I’m winging it here then usually I’m going for the Clipper wings. Of all the flavor profiles, this one is the hardest to describe without sounding cliché. I’ll try a few adjectives and see what sticks: tangy, smoky, sweet. There is a slight bite to these, but nothing that will send you running for the hose. The onion and garlic earthen up the soy sauce and molasses base, and there is a pinch of cayenne for good measure. For the spicy Clipper a healthy dose of Sriracha is added.
Between the two locations, the one on Dauphin and the other at Hillcrest and Old Shell, Heroes shells out plenty of wings with enough TVs to pretty much show any game worth watching. Don your gear and order your pitchers.
Chicken wings can be classy. Just try the honey chipotle wings at The Royal Scam. This milder version of America’s favorite football dish is right at home in a fine dining restaurant. There is a TV behind the bar, so consider this a great compromise when your sweetheart wants to dress up for the game. The name says it all, with the sweetness of the honey against the chipotle butter.
I’m sure there are great local places with incredible wings I’m leaving out, but if you think I’m too good for the big chain restaurant wings, think again. I’ll happily share with you a pitcher and a plate of 50 at Hooters. You can get them battered or fried nude and pretty much go as hot as you wish. I also love the curly fries and oftentimes the scenery doesn’t suck. Three Mile Island used to be a favored flavor in college. Just remember you may not feel so great the next day.
Buffalo Wild Wings can get pretty spicy. I actually love their lemon pepper. I’m not ashamed to admit I kindled the flame that ended in marriage at a BWW in Laurel, Mississippi. I was a flapper man looking for a gal who prefers drumettes. Do you feel the power of chicken wings now?
Grocery stores are in on the game, usually by the pound. Winn Dixie at Catherine Street was the first to enter the arena. Wings are what you see when you walk through the door. Greer’s at Dauphin and Interstate 65 has a strong game with three or four flavors to choose from. I’ve mixed them all for a game of chicken wing roulette. I tried to hate Publix’s version, but their spicy wings are pretty great, battered or nude.
Get your gang together. Get a gallon of blue cheese. Get your fingers dirty. Get social with your wings.
Most of all … Who Dat?
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