Harold’s Chicken Shack Appreciation

December 11, 2009

Photos by Shino Yanagawa

To my fellows out in Chicago, (you lucky dogs) I salute you. It was maybe three years ago the first time when I touched down in the beautiful city of Chicago. Like most new places in the US, I immediately went into my hip hop trivia bag to figure out what to eat. One thing that I heard about was a hood spot called Harold’s Chicken Shack. So after a two days of being in the city I took a drive with my friends to the Harold’s in Hyde Park, close to where I was staying. It was there that I had a truly great Chicago experience.

I met a young man who straight went crazy when he saw my sneakers. He saw the Creative Recreation sneakers I had on and noticed they were a colorway he’d never seen. We then got into a conversation about what kind of sneakers his peers wore out in the Chi. As our conversation concluded I was next up to give my order. In Harold’s, chicken is sold by quarter, half, and whole portions. You can also order wings but I’ve yet to do so. There’s an art to placing an order at this establishment. I asked the brother ahead of me for some assistance siting that I was a New Yorker and a novice with Harold’s. He told me a 1/4 should do me fine if I wasn’t completely starving. After our cool conversation was done, it was my turn to order. I walked up to the window 90% confident. However that 10% caused me to ask the woman behind the bulletproof glass for help. I asked her what size order should I get. She told me “well you ARE a MAN so you should get a 1/2 chicken.” In order for me to keep my manhood intact I had to order the half chicken. My official order was 1/2 chicken white with mild sauce, bread (I’ll get to that) and fries.

Now about that mild sauce. Harold’s “mild sauce” is the stuff of legends. Nobody actually knows what’s in this concoction. Some think it ‘s hot sauce and ketchup mixed together but NOPE I think that’s not enough. At Harold’s they pour this stuff all over your chicken and fries. It’s something I crave back here in NY to no avail. The last time I flew back from Chicago I ate some Harold’s on the plane. I knew I was wrong and I probably set my people back a few years for that act alone but dammit the chicken is THAT GOOD!

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