Of Love and Lard

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things was my grandma’s fried chicken.

It was soooooo good.

I can’t even begin to explain to you how good.

Our entire family used to gather at her house on Sunday afternoons after church, and many of those Sundays she would make fried chicken.

I remember watching her work in the kitchen…coating pieces of chicken, arranging them in her cast iron skillet, filling the house with the smell of love and lard.

Not only do I remember how good that fried chicken was…I remember how I felt when I ate it.




But sometime in the mid-80s, the diet craze hit our country.

And my family.

We went Weight Watchers postal, and I never saw grandma’s fried chicken again.

When I asked why, I was told that fried chicken was bad…that it was making us fat and unhealthy.


How could something I loved so much and that made me feel so good be bad for me?

I was crushed.

For years following that devastation, I would try a piece of fried chicken here and there.

Church pitch-ins.

Kentucky Fried.

Kopper Kettle.


I felt like a sinner just looking at it.

And it made me sad.

But I would take a few bites.

Then it would sit like a lump in my tummy and a hole in my heart.

Nothing would ever compare to grandma’s fried chicken.

So I resolved…

fried chicken is bad.

It ruined me forever.

I will never love another fried chicken again.

Decades later, after my grandma had passed away, I was going through some old photos.

I found some old newspaper clippings and notes grandma had written to herself.

In that musty stack of newsprint, I found a recipe card with her handwritten tips on how to prepare fried chicken.

I felt a twinge of reminiscent pain in my heart.

And no, it wasn’t angina.

Oh, fried chicken. How I loved thee.

But you hurt me.

You made me chubby and awkward and forced me to bring cottage cheese and tomatoes in my lunchbox in the 7th grade.

But what I soon realized is that I had spent a huge portion of my life avoiding something altogether that I loved, simply because in my mind, it had caused me harm.

So I decided to try again.

I got out the cast iron skillet.

And the flour.




And I did it up exactly how grandma used to do it.

I even used the drippings to make Grandma Harding Gravy, (that’s what our family called it) and it looked just like hers.

My house smelled like happiness and busted shirt buttons.

I sat down with my family to eat it.

They ranted. They raved.

“It tastes exactly like grandma’s did!”

But guess what?

No it didn’t.

It didn’t taste at all how I remembered.

Not even close.

For 30 years, I had memories of how good that fried chicken was.

And I hadn’t had anything like it since.

So was it really that the fried chicken wasn’t as good as I remembered?

Or that now in my mind all fried chicken was bad so it would never be the same again?

And so it is with life and love.

We get knocked down.

We get hurt.

We may spend a very long time being angry or upset or shut down about the way we were hurt or disappointed.

But eventually, we muster the strength to get back up and try again.

That job you wanted so badly and worked so hard to attain, may have gone to someone who deserved it less.

It doesn’t mean you never work again.

That child you invested your time and your energy in, may have chosen the wrong path and let you down.

It doesn’t mean you never invest again.

That record contract you practiced so hard and auditioned for, may have been completely rejected.

It doesn’t mean you never perform again.

That love you poured yourself into, and felt so deeply may have betrayed and devastated you and left you in a pile of rubble.

It doesn’t mean you never love again.

You just have to learn to try chicken a different way.

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken is one of my personal faves.

But expecting Grilled Bruschetta Chicken to taste the same as grandma’s fried chicken is going to leave me feeling very disappointed.

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken is it’s own dish.

Different flavors.

Different textures.

Completely different experience.

It is wonderful and fulfilling and unique in it’s own way.

Today’s life lesson, courtesy of grandma and Colonel Sanders:

Just because you loved something that was bad for you doesn’t mean you can’t learn to enjoy and be nourished by what is good for you.

I will always remember grandma’s fried chicken. I’ve just grown up enough to make healthier choices.










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