Friday, October 21, 2011

The Gravy - "Memory" (1997)

Maybe the KFCs in Boston are cleaner than the one on Main Street in Suffolk, VA.

The Candy Snatchers - "Sauced Again" (1996)

If I were to cut myself, I'd bleed Arby's Sauce.

Pour It On: KFC Gravy Vs. Arby's Sauce

For a gallon of gasoline in Tidewater Virginia, you can expect to pay more than a few pennies over three dollars. Wouldn't it be great if restaurants charged a similar rate for their liquid offerings? I would love to walk into Outback Steakhouse with an empty milk carton, ask to have it filled with the "Roo Juice" that complements Bloomin' Onion orders, fork over four bills (tip included) and head back to the homestead. If Friendly's had a user-friendly (Ha!) container of the peanut butter sauce that's integrated into their delicious sundaes, I'd dispense quart after quart from it on a weekly basis. "Roo Juice" rhapsodies and Friendly's fantasies aside, there are two fast-food finishes that have deluged my dining dreams for many years. Even though I'll be choosing a side today, the "loser" won't be forced into a life of Applebee's-addled purgatory. (Hey, Chris! Hey, Jesse!) Let the drowning commence!

There was a lot to like about Kentucky Fried Chicken in the 1970s-early 1990s. The bucket had a bold, cursive font and made an uncredited star turn in "The Bad News Bears." The chicken itself was generously parceled with white meat and tasty skin. Desserts such as parfaits and puddings lined the serving area. Chicken Littles were the chain's answer to White Castle's slider sandwiches and splendidly satisfied after-2 AM munchies. Ah, those were the days. Mike and Gloria's trip to KFC is less familial in 2011. If you're in the mood to be taken for a ride at the register, order one of those two-piece boxes for $5.00. The legs are the size of wings, and the breasts are the size of legs. Skin is unattractive, slippery and lacking the crispness of an earlier era. The minimal amount of meat on the bones is very greasy, cheap tasting and an affront to the "We do chicken right!" slogan of happier times. When Stouffer's or the Sunoco up the street is the better bird option, the Colonel's guarded blend of herbs and spices is a secret not worth sharing. If you must partake in KFC's wares due to being employed by a franchise or having family ties with founder Harlan Sanders, go for the following: 1)Popcorn Chicken (I hereby recommend a name change to Kentucky Fried Popcorn Chicken), 2)mashed potatoes and 3)a large cup of gravy. The first two suggestions are fine enough, but KFC Gravy is the perennial All-Star on a consistently bad MLB ballclub.

When the god of your choosing wants a hot turkey sandwich, he or she sends one of his or her underlings to KFC to retrieve a bucket-sized portion of gravy, dips said sandwich in the vat and calls it "Ah, juice!" I'm not a deity, but I've expressed similar rejoicements over "Ah, juice!" for almost 30 years. As a youngster, I dunked chicken meat, chicken skin, chicken beaks, chicken claws and maybe even chicken bones into the flavorful fountain of broth. Speaking of broth, that's one of the possible ingredients in the mixture. Among others: water, cornstarch, bouillon cubes, shortening, breading flour, salt, MSG (Yeah!), black pepper and ground sage. I've read about many attempts to make your own KFC Gravy at home, and most of the concoctions either had too much of one thing or not enough of another. "We do gravy right!" will be the catchphrase for the new Kentucky Fried Popcorn Chicken. No more breasts, legs and thighs on the menu. That might sound like taking a vow of celibacy, but the future focus will be on finger foods that can be easily dipped into the potent plasma. Popcorn Chicken. Potato wedges. Chicken strips. Biscuits. Besides, who wants to deal with a big pile of bones? Gravy will be sold by the quart, half gallon and gallon for discerning customers who wish to pair it with otherwise superior choices from Hardee's and Bojangles'. Heck, Chris Berman might be tempted to sneak a cup of KFC's finest into Applebee's and drench his Chicken Whatever in the good stuff. Pony up, Palmer! "Eatin' good in the neighborhood" is about to get even better.

Homer Simpson once bellowed: "I'M SO HUNGRY, I COULD EAT AT ARBY'S!" Perhaps the locations in Springfield are filthier than the mind of Homer's FOX compadre Peter Griffin, but Arby's has always ranked near the top on my list of favorite fast-food eateries. Give me the largest Jamocha Shake (a mix of coffee and chocolate) available, and I'll cut a two-years-unmowed lawn with a pair of child's safety scissors. Present a Big Montana on my tray, and I'll start rooting for said state's main representative in the Big Sky Conference and learn its nickname. Gift me with a Five Guys-sized bag of Curly Fries, and I'll still lament over the Homestyle variety's disappearing act whilst enjoying every last twisted potato. The original Roast Beef Sandwich, however, remains the go-to selection for the ultimate in Arby's gourmand goodness. My siblings and I first sampled the simple succulence inside the Airline Blvd. store in Portsmouth, VA, circa 1980. The roast beef was pleasing enough on its own, but one special condiment sent the sandwich into the stratosphere. That holy water is, of course, Arby's Sauce.

Make no mistake, I'm also a big backer of the Horsey Sauce, but there can only be two teams in the final round. Bet Horsey and "Roo Juice" would stage an epic battle in the consolation match. Whenever I frequent an Arby's, I never seem to get enough sauce to coat my sandwiches. Much like my practice of dipping every bite of a Hardee's cheeseburger in smooth Heinz Ketchup, I enjoy dropping both beef and bun in the blood. For years, I've told friends about endless wishes of finding Arby's Sauce in grocery stores or being able to purchase pints of it outright in restaurants. Regarding "friends," I currently have 151 of the things on my Facecrack page. Each one needs to send a half-ounce packet of Arby's Sauce to me via USPS. If I can collect nine AS pouches and locate an appropriately sized container, the goal of possessing five pints of Arby's Sauce for home use will be achieved. Have you tried the sauce with deli-bought roast beef on a Kaiser roll with Swiss? The five pints on hand would vacate the need to pocket packets from the restaurant and the chore of driving all over town and repeatedly claiming that the window attendant "forgot" to put some sauce in the bag. Because of Arby's "Our Signature Barbeque Sauce" tagline, the list of dishes it could possibly enhance is appealing. How about a plate of Arby's Pork Chops with a large spoonful of macaroni and cheese and a hunk of cornbread? Care for an Arby's Burger on a toasted bun with tater tots and a crunchy pickle? Would you like to try a piece of Arby's Chicken with mashed potatoes and a buttered loaf? Invite me to all of the dinner parties, please. I'll check my Homestyle Fries tears at the door.

Congratulations, Arby's Sauce! Say hello to Jamocha for me.