Bessie’s Chicken Wings
I recently read a story from one of my favorite blogs, Pinch of Yum, entitled “Feeding a Broken Heart.” In this story, fellow-blogger, Lindsay, shares with her audience the pain of losing her infant son and her inability to eat, much less enjoy, food after experiencing such heartbreak. Upon learning of the tragedy, angels quickly descended upon Lindsay’s doorstep bearing gifts of hope and love disguised as casseroles, soups, salads, and desserts. This simple act of kindness, Lindsay proclaims, is what helped her find her way again, both physically and emotionally.
Grief has a cruel way of affecting our appetite. For some, a common side effect of bereavement is overeating. For others, appetite is simply held captive by the heartache, thus starving them of nourishment necessary to heal.
Like Lindsay, there was a time when I, too, found it impossible to eat or enjoy food amidst unexpected sorrow. It had been six days since I had eaten a morsel of food. My stomach was tied in an unforgiving knot and my head pounded from dehydration, yet, I had no intention of eating on day seven. Then my angel showed up.
Her name was Bessie – a co-worker at the Regional Personnel Center in Sembach, Germany. I was an entry-level Personnel Clerk, and Bessie was a seasoned Staffing Specialist. From the moment we met, I felt an immediate connection to Bessie. Her southern charm, sassy spirit, and love for God and comfort food were magnets to my soul. It didn’t take long for our newly formed friendship to develop into a special mother-daughter bond.
I managed to keep my sad news from Bessie for an entire week. I guess there was a part of me that was still in shock. When the pain became too much for me to bear alone, I confided in her that my husband of 10 years informed me that he no longer loved me and wanted a divorce. It was an unexpected blow to my heart, one that Bessie knew well from experiencing her own heartbreak. As she held me in her arms, she asked, “When was the last time you ate?” She knew by the look on my face that it had been a while and with that, she insisted on cooking me dinner.
Bessie had our Friday evening all planned – a home-cooked meal, gospel music, and some good ole Christian preaching by Joyce Meyer. I had never heard of Joyce Meyer, but Bessie loved her teaching and was eager to watch her on some VHS tapes she recently purchased. I have watched Joyce Meyer every day since.
I was greeted by a delicious blend of culinary smells as Bessie opened the door and welcomed me inside. I followed her to the dining area where a heavenly feast of chicken wings, salad, bread, and iced tea awaited me. Bessie made one thing clear: my days of involuntary fasting were over.
Bessie’s chicken wings were tender and juicy inside, no doubt the result of being encapsulated within a perfectly fried exterior. I instinctively closed my eyes and listened to the loud and satisfying crunch. The caramelized sauce was a perfect combination of sweet and savory; the flavor was so intense, it aroused my taste buds and sent me on a feeding frenzy.
With each bite, I literally felt solace enter my broken spirit. Joy began to replace depression, and hope assumed control over impending despair. Hours earlier, I was depleted mentally, physically, and spiritually. Now, I was happy and fulfilled. My angel provided the strength and nourishment I desperately needed to move forward. Everything was going to be okay – I was going to be okay. I had been fed.
Today is National Chicken Wing Day! Head over to the Forum and share your favorite chicken wing story or recipe.
Bessie’s Chicken Wings
2 pounds of chicken wings (about 20-25 pieces)
1 cup olive oil (or utilize a deep fryer)
1 cup corn starch or flour (I prefer corn starch, it makes them extra crunchy!)
½ cup of packed brown sugar
2 10-ounce bottles of La Choy Sweet & Sour Sauce
1 6-ounce bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Rinse chicken wings with water and coat with corn starch. Place coated wings into deep fryer or frying pan with pre-heated olive oil.
Fry wings until golden. Set aside.
Combine brown sugar, sweet & sour sauce, and half a bottle (you can use more if you like them more spicy than sweet) of hot sauce in a mixing bowl. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved.
Dip wings into the sauce and place in an ungreased 9×13 baking dish.
Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes or until sauce begins to caramelize.
Remove from oven. Serve hot.
*Note: The above recipe has been slightly modified to cater to my family’s taste buds.