Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Foodie Travel: Let's Talk about Buffalo Wings

It is not and never has been a secret that I am a lover of food.  While my true love lies with fresh, healthy (and local, if I’m lucky) dishes, sometimes a person has just gotta chow down on something truly out-of-this-world-bad-for-you in order to really enjoy life. 

Enter, the Buffalo Wing. 

Growing up as a New Yorker (I was born and raised on Long Island) I am very familiar with the lazy-week-night take out tradition of pizza and wings, but my move to the west coast as a teenager and my complete inability to handle spicy food probably stunted my culinary knowledge when it comes to this particular regional delicacy. Read: I am a little wuss.

But when planning my recent trip to Buffalo, NY, a stop at the Anchor Bar - the birthplace of the chicken wing - was high up on my list of priorities…because we all know it’s totally normal to prioritize chicken wings above Niagara Falls when planning a trip to Buffalo, right? No? 

How About a Little History? 

Despite the fact that nowadays you’ll find wings at just about every Superbowl party across the nation, the finger-staining, deep-fried delicacy is actually a pretty recent invention. 

Though there are plenty of different versions of the story floating around, the general consensus is that Buffalo Wings were created by Teressa Bellissimo on a Friday night in 1964 at the now famous Anchor Bar. 

Teresa covered the wings in her own secret sauce and served them along side some blue cheese and celery sticks, simply because that’s what she has available at the time.  Frank Belissimo – co-owner of the Anchor bar and husband to Teressa – was quoted in an article of the New Yorker in 1980, stating that Teressa had created the wings out of sheer necessity. Due to some mixup, the bar had accidentally received a shipment of wings instead of other chicken parts and they weren't sure what to do with them. In another version, the Anchor Bar website claims that they were actually made at their son Dominic’s request as a midnight snack of sorts.

Either way, the city of Buffalo doesn’t seem too concerned with the origins of its namesake dish; the western New York town has celebrated Chicken Wing Day every July 29th since 1977.  Now that’s a holiday I can get behind.  

Our Experience at the Anchor Bar.

Steven and I arrived at the Anchor Bar in the early afternoon for lunch.

The decor of is dark and outdated - some of the vinyl seats are ripped, the walls are wood-paneled, and hundreds of picture frames clutter the walls. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though, because the atmosphere is exactly as it should be: casual and unpretentious, welcoming to all that enter.

  This is hardly fine dining - your fingers turn orange and you'll go through about ten paper napkins that will all be crumbled and littering the table top by meal's end. It is exactly the kind of greasy goodness you'll want after a late night out with friends or on a weekend afternoon.

We decided to split a bucket of 20 wings between us, approximately 10 for each. Remember when I said I’m a total wuss when it comes to spicy food? I was brave and opted for the “medium” sauce, wanting to get the full spicy wing experience but not quite suicidal enough to go for the actual “spicy” option. 

Traditionally when prepared, wings should be broken in half to make more of a drumstick shape that is easier to eat, then deepfried immediately with no batter, flour, or seasoning. The fried wings are then rolled in a sauce and served hot with blue cheese and celery. 

Our wings came to our table fast and were everything I could have ever hoped for. They were just crunchy enough and just spicy enough (okay, for me maybe a bit too spicy, but it was so delicious I didn’t care.)  I didn’t think I’d be able to eat 10 wings by myself but you bet I inhaled every single one.

The subsequent heartburn was totally worth it. 


Sweet Love and Ginger said...

I have always lived in upstate NY so I grew up with the same traditions of wings and pizza. Do you find that its different in other places you have lived around the us? I always just thought everyone did this. And thank you now I want wings for dinner. PS. Try them with 1/2 buffalo sauce 1/2 bbq, its pure heaven.

Van Nguyen said...

I love the history lesson on food. I like those pictures of you eating. I'm craving some wings now.

Tranae said...

And now I really want some buffalo wings :)


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