CHEAP EATS Georgie Bundle is my new favorite person. My ever-loving bassist and keeper of my records, he has at various times during our many years of friendship impressed me with his barbecued things and bass lines. His harmonies, his goosey Christmases... He once accepted custody of some hand-me-down chickens of mine and built a coop for them on his lunch break. It was next to the steps, under the avocado tree, as if my old ex-chickens' existence wasn't cartoonish enough.
Well, yesterday evening we stood on those steps in North Oakland, after work, and reminisced. We have such a rich and rhythmic history, but the subject of our nostalgic reverie was a fried chicken dinner he'd cooked up two nights before.
I was there! I love it when people make fried chicken, because it's something I have never myself been able to do. In fact I only know, personally, a handful of people who have managed to fry the chickens in the comfort and coze of their own little kitchens: Kentucky Fried Woman (obviously), Ruberoy "Shortribs" Perrotta, Wayway...
And now this. Now Georgie Bundle. Dude bought $70 worth — in fact, "bought" might not suffice — dude fucking purchased $70 worth of healthy, grass-fed Sonoma County chickens, brined them overnight, dredged them through some kind of fancy-pants specialty gluten-free flour, bathed them in buttermilk, and then flour again before they hit the hot oil.
When we joined his Southern-themed dinner party, with our Hedgehog-made cornbread and my me-made okra and tomatoes, Bundle was three paper towels to the wind, pinballing between the counter, the stove, and the sink, high on peanut oil fumes. He had a thermometer in the oil, and did the breasts all together at one temperature, and then the wings, legs and thighs at an altogether different temperature.
I don't know if I ever hugged a host or hostess harder.
Long story short, the chicken was the best chicken ever, but this weird anti-Jesus thing happened where, after everyone had cleaned their plates and licked their fingers and (if they were me) their wrists and forearms, there weren't any seconds.
Hedgehog is a lot of wonderful things, but "the most gracious guest in the world" isn't one of them. When she came back outside with a second helping of Everything But, her disappointment was palpable.
Sadness, she calls it now. "Mostly I was just sad. I went up there with hope in my heart," she said, when I interviewed her for this story. Just now, in the kitchen.
Mr. Bundle and our very dear Yoyo were sad too, and confused.
"I don't know what happened," Bundle said. "It seemed like so much chicken while I was cooking it."
"It was the best fried chicken ever in the history of the world," I said. "That's what happened. We disappeared it. Everybody got some."
There were so many great sides, like roasted carrots and greens and mac and cheese, that nobody stayed sad for long and everyone went home happy.
Short story long: Next day I get an email from Georgie Bundle titled, "there was MORE chicken!" He had put a whole tray of it in the oven to keep warm, and then forgot about it. And here's where the superhero comes out in him. He offered to deliver more chicken to anyone who wanted it. "Even if you don't email me I might just show up with some chicken," he said. "You've been warned."
I did email him, of course. I'm not proud. And it really was awesome, awesome fried chicken. But we had been chicken-sitting in Alameda when the dinner happened, or we probably wouldn't have been invited. In fact, I'm not sure we were, technically, invited. The point is, it was an East Bay thing. And by the next day we were back home in the Mission, so I was sure there was no chance of a Late Night Trans-Bay Leftover Fried Chicken Delivery.
I took a bath.