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Saturday Night Social: Who's Making Sohla's Fried Chicken Tonight?

Illustration for article titled Saturday Night Social: Whos Making Sohlas Fried Chicken Tonight?
Screenshot: YouTube

Sohla El-Waylly is back, bay bee!! Well, technically she guested on a Food52 video back in July, but her new cooking video with The New York Times, which hit YouTube on Friday, feels like a real return to form following the chef’s decision to no longer make video content for Bon Appetit after speaking out against the brand’s racist, discriminatory treatment of Black and brown talent.

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Today, I’m going to cook you through my life,” El-Waylly says at the top of the clip. “I’m going to show you three recipes that kind of define three important moments from my life.”

Here’s what the three final dishes look like once prepared, paired with some quotes from the Timesvideo:

1. Chicken Korma Sandwiches

Illustration for article titled Saturday Night Social: Whos Making Sohlas Fried Chicken Tonight?
Screenshot: YouTube
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“When I first got out of culinary school, I had this attitude that I knew more than everybody else. Turns out that’s totally false. When I would make my mom’s food, I would always try to, like, you know, make it more ‘updated,’ ‘refine’ it, do things like add chicken broth instead of water, but it actually just makes it terrible. So, now I just trust my mom and make things the traditional way. They’re tradition for a reason, yeah?”

2. Halibut Crudo with Citrus Foam

Illustration for article titled Saturday Night Social: Whos Making Sohlas Fried Chicken Tonight?
Screenshot: YouTube

“This kind of food is ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad—it’s just a little stupid. [Ed. note: me] Sure, I learned some cool cooking techniques [at culinary school], but I think the biggest thing [I learned] is discipline. We would start at 10am and work until 2am, so now every job feels relatively easy. I think when it comes to learning about flavors and what tastes good, I think that foundation actually comes from my mother and the food I ate growing up.”

3. Fried Chicken with Chile Oil and Spice Dust

Illustration for article titled Saturday Night Social: Whos Making Sohlas Fried Chicken Tonight?
Screenshot: YouTube
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“The warm spices in here kind of echo the warm spices in the korma, which I didn’t even think about, but it’s totally happening here. Old school, new school—we’re all just frying in a skillet, with just a couple of twists thrown in, you know?”

So, who’s making one of these recipes tonight? I definitely am, lied the beautiful author of this here blog. How about you? Either way, enjoy your night! And watch the full clip below if you so please.

Freelance journalist (GQ, Esquire, Out, elsewhere), here on weekends

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DISCUSSION

emchammmered
E=MC Hammmered

Long post alert!

I just got word from my dad that my grandma is dying. Doctors don’t expect her to make it through the night. She is 98, fell a couple months ago and broke her hip, was in the hospital then a skilled care facility for about six weeks, then was able to go home a couple weeks ago before taking a turn for the worse this week. I’m actually surprised she made it home at all, as I just figured that a 98-year-old with a major injury and major surgery in general, but especially during the pandemic, would not be making it back home.

Anyway, I’m not posting for pity—she had 98 years in mostly great health, more than most—but to share how badass of a woman my grandma was. She grew up dirt poor in Minnesota during the depression (literally—they lived in a converted pigsty that had a dirt floor). Her dad left the family and left her mom with seven kids. They didn’t always have shoes so would step in fresh cow pies on their way to school during the winter to warm up their feet. They would also get whatever they could from the butcher for free or very cheap, so she grew up on and continued to make stuff like blood pudding, cow brain, tripe, and other offal. As recently as last year I had scrambled eggs with cow brain at her house.

This is a woman who marched with Cesar Chavez, enrolled in community college in her 70s because she wasn’t able to when she was younger and earned a degree in creative writing, and until last year kept a large garden, ducks and hens for fresh eggs, a kiln to fire her ceramic crafts, and a dark room to develop her own photography. She also used to raise rabbits, goats, and the occasional pig for meat. She could write a poem or make a vase and butcher a hog all in one afternoon.

Once, when she was visiting us when I was a kid, I was playing dodge ball with some friends from the neighborhood when she joined in and fucking destroyed us all. My friend’s mom actually came out and started yelling at her because she thought my grandma was just a crazy lady clobbering us with a volleyball—which she basically was, I guess.

She loved gin and tonics and drank one almost every night until she went into the hospital and, perhaps my favorite story about her (which I may have told on Jezebel before), is that when she was 19 she was working as a waitress making $0.15 per hour. A photographer that had a studio above the restaurant offered her $10 per hour to pose nude, which she rejected. When she told her mom about it later, her mom basically said ‘you better get that money!’ so she posed for a series of very tasteful nude photos, one of which hangs on my living room wall. I may be the only person on earth who has a nude picture of their grandmother hanging in their living room...

Anyway, I’m obviously sad about my grandmother passing, but she had an amazing life. She went from stepping in cow pies to iPhones; lived in Minnesota, Seattle, San Diego, Mexico, the Marshall Islands, Oregon, then finally Northern California where she’s spent the last 50+ years. There’s no reason to mourn, but plenty of reason to celebrate an amazing life. I can only hope to accomplish half of much as she did, but I know I never will.

Have a gin and tonic for grandma tonight...