Claritha’s Fried Chicken Wings

“I first fried chicken as a teenager to impress a boyfriend. The ploy worked fine, but making the chicken was such a hassle I wasn’t eager to repeat the experience for anyone for a long time. Also, I knew even then that the final result wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Ever since, I’ve been clipping fried chicken recipes and refining them, taking hints form one to add to good parts of another. And now, after years of searching, I’ve finally found the most incredible recipe of all. It appears in Tender At The Bone, not a cookbook per se, but rather a very tasty memoir by my friend Ruth Reichl, restaurant critic for The New York Times. Ruth originally wrested this recipe, with some guile, from a woman named Claritha, whom she’d met in a bar in Ann Arbor during the sixties.”

Zanne Early Stewart, excerpted from Gourmet Magazine June 1998*

The beauty of this story is that it hooks you—or loses you—immediately.

You are either the making fried chicken sort (in which case you are already adding the ingredients to your grocery list and marking off the 2–day prep time on your calendar) or you recoil in horror and move to the next article with lightening speed.

And isn’t that what we want? Either hook ‘em or send ‘em back, right up front. No dallying, no words wasted. Just simple, evocative, from-the-heart copy.

Not only will I read anything Zanne Early Stewart chooses to write about food, but I clipped that story and have lovingly made (and added my own touches to) Claritha’s Fried Chicken Wings for almost 15 years. I’m in her tribe for keeps.

Can your audience say the same about you?

*If you want just the recipe, you can find it here on epicurious. For the complete original story AND recipe, drop me a line and I’ll send you the PDF I made for safekeeping. Complete with hot oil spatters.


  • Sure. Send me the whole story. Recipe and all.

  • I’m such a foodie I’ll read any story like that. I won’t spend my time making something like that – it’s not worth it to me to spend hours fixing something that’s eaten in less than 15 minutes.

  • Jeff–it’s on it’s way! Nancy, LOL! I’ll send you the story, but can trust you not to experiment…

  • Shelly likes wings; I eschew them. And I have to mention that before i got to the end (before the”read more” link, I was ready to email you since I met the NY Time writer once and my Uncle knows her (it was like almost a wow moment apart from the main storyline.)
    I find the recipe analogy rather interesting.
    I ceased writing a column I wrote for two years (find “The Public Ought To Know” on my website’s commentary link); people still talk to me as if the column continues to run (I ceased it by pre-arrangement at the end of May 2005 when I joined a NYC mayoral campaign; I opted not to resume it as the year ran out; no real explanation.).
    More recently when I get the urge, I post a column on line, tweet it, post it to Facebook and LinkedIn; interesting a Daily paper picked up the post and ran it as a column giving it double play of course; sometimes I post items I write for clients as “guest commentary”.
    There a a few instances of true guest commentary when a friend wrote something and shared it but has not created a blog or other site to make it available on the net (I have two such items pending to post).

  • Small world indeed, Corey. She truly has a knack for food writing, one of my favorite genres. Let me know if Shelly wants the recipe and I’ll send it along 🙂

    Your other point is one many struggle with. To write a column for someone else? To blog–and if so, how often? The thought of a regular blog/column strikes fear into the hearts of some. And not just the deadline, but the thought of getting their content boiled down to 300 words…

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