Going Wild for Hot Wings
By Matt Frey
People often forget what brings the streets and the food community together: hot wings! The United States has a multitude of diverse food styles and cultures in each town, from border to border. A debate for which state has the best food among California, Texas and New York has been ongoing.
On California’s behalf, Thrillist.com states that, “The Bear Republic is like an entire galaxy of food spread over an entire state, one where a road trip could start with the greatest fish tacos and pan-Latin-American fare in America and end with actual bear paired with great wine in the north.”
Categorized as couture food, this quick and easy menu item known as “wings” reigns from the high hills of Bama’ to the beaches of California, all the way through to the icy peninsulas of New England. Ultimately, chefs don't always follow a traditional finger-licking hot taste that consumers are used to. Some cities, depending on their culture, add their own twists.
Thai cuisine and native favorite dish - peanut seared chicken skewers, have made stylized contributions to American wings in the great city of San Francisco. Thanks to San Tung (1031 Irving St), their unorthodox creation to add the Thai flavor to their wings, many wing entrepreneurs are inspired to think boldly and add a zing to wings more than simply causing an after burn to the palette. Additionally, on a more daring note, some diners have to sign a waiver to eat that “backroom extremely hot” wing. Although it is precautious, restaurants such as Howlin’ Rays in Los Angeles do not want to be liable if a customer takes a bite and drops dead.
A good lunch of hot wings can solve issues and sometimes can bring absolute happiness to the table. When asked how much the heat of the wing affects the mind, body and soul or relationships, street food enthusiast and Novato High sophomore Emmanuel Mazariegos had some thoughts.
“Well of course a fight can be resolved between a fellow friend by just simply ingesting hot wings. Everybody knows that, duh,” said Mazariegos. “But for real, if you and a friend are not at an agreement, a way to resolve it is going through the same pain from the heat of a wing because it makes both feel empathy for each other which obviously leads to some sort of forgiveness. In my opinion, wings affect my mind, body and soul. It can control you.”
Mazariegos quite seriously states that these small forms of delicious chicken can have a rehabilitation and reconciliation factor to taking that first bite. As well as helping a relationship build, it can make or break the fondness of one another.
What does a good wing taste like and what is all criteria that falls into the first bite? Dopamine in the brain is released when hot sauce hits your tongue and this can only be transmitted when the wing is perfect. Whether it’s a flat or a drumstick, the wing has to provide enough heat to make fanatics pine for more. Wings that cause dripping sweat from the forehead means they were whipped good (tossed and sauced with finesse) but to return to that obsessive spiciness, one must overcome the heat.
A bar is the perfect habitat to taste hot wings. The Buffalo wing was actually invented in 1964 at Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. Chicken wings back in the 60’s were not the desirable appetizer that we see today. This food, normally used for stock and soup, became a growing trend around the United States. What made cooks add a hot essence to a mini bone of chicken is uncertain. Although, in many bars, alcoholic drinks can jumpstart a taste for anything.
As time progressed to keep the phenomenon moving about wings, chefs did not just find new ways to zing the customer's taste-buds, but also attempted to keep businesses running in a creative way. A magical innovation was constructed - the boneless wing. Now whenever a customer walks into a Wingstop or Buffalo Wild Wings, that boneless selection is often offered and taken.
Spice level is a major aspect of hot wings. Having wings form into a gloom and doom and possible chance of death is an insane notion. This risky bite described by wing addict Malcolm Gibson says it all (grab some napkins because this gets juicy).
“The suicide wings like where you have to sign the waiver, I’ve done that before! I did this at Howlin’ Rays in Los Angeles. So when you ask me ‘you can die off the hotness of the wings?’ I’ve done it, If you die off the wings, you are weak,” claimed Gibson. “There is much more ways to die and If you have a heart attack off the wing, you should have been vegan. Howlin’ Rays, the Howlin’ wing as they call it, is just flat out one bite and your mouth is numb. Not even playing you have to put on some safety mittens to hold’em. It is dangerous but worth it.”
Gibson states that it's an experience opposed to a death sentence. You already take the risk of burning your mouth so why not go for that extra zap? Although, one who ingests a wing with such a reputation and risk should be prepared to possibly see the afterlife.
To conclude, wings have evolved from a slept on cuisine to a higher class of fast food. Having seen emotion come out of spice, to the solving of relationships or even the interesting history of how this chicken part made it big. Today, this trend has even exploded into a growing YouTube show called “Hot Ones” hosted by Sean Evans, where celebrities react to the hotness of wings. A very entertaining interview show, the wings being served have had musical artist Asap Ferg break out into a harlem shake and has caused Terry Crews to hallucinate. Whether wings are a food from the heavens or not, your tastebuds will be revitalized.