The ‘Fried Chicken Problem’
The saturation of the city with fried chicken takeaways is, without a doubt, a phenomenon specific to British urban areas. The viability of London’s fried chicken outlets is, however, entirely related to a far more global trend: namely, the half-century long ascent of chicken from a smallholder’s occasional meal, to a thrice weekly protein hit for any and every individual on earth, that can afford the astonishingly cheap avian carcass. The additional uses to which restrictions on hot food takeaways can be put become clear when viewing local authorities’ discussions of fried chicken takeaways in strategic planning documents, or surveying their more vocal residents’ contributions to public planning consultations. Increasingly, the fried chicken takeaway offers both London’s urban technocrats and its majoritarian public a shorthand reference to a problematic inner-city working-class culture. A portion of fried chicken thigh or drumstick with wings, for instance, offers a unique combination of saltiness, sweetness, heat, spice, crunch and chew.