Whenever anyone mentions Alabama, I think of one story.
I used to work with a guy from China. He was doing his MBA summer internship at the consulting firm where I worked. He was a very curious kind of guy, always asking questions. He never stopped, especially when it came to understanding the language and culture of America. I remember one day when we were sitting in traffic on the way to lunch. It was one of those sweltering summer days in Atlanta. I had been charged with managing him for the summer, and I was doing my best to feed him well, if nothing else.
We had been working long hours on a hard project, and I was starting to grow weary of his incessant inquiries. It just took so much effort to be around this guy, always answering questions, always thinking so rationally. And they were never straightforward questions I could readily answer like “What is the best live country record of all time?” (Charlie Pride’s In Person.)
So there we sit, my car’s A/C struggling under the weight of Atlanta’s humidity, and he points at this car with Alabama plates. He reads the state motto aloud in his unsure, staccato English: “Stahs… Fell… On… A-la-ba-ma.” Then he turns to me and asks, “Is that a good thing?”
I threw up my hands, exasperated: “I don’t know, man! They put it on their license plate, so I guess they think it’s pretty good.” He didn’t say anything in reply. He just filed it away. A little more data on this odd, foreign place called the United States. The land where stars fall, and it’s a good thing.
Several years later, I now have one more Alabama association: chicken fingers. Although, now that I actually look at the photos it’s fair to say that it’s a Georgia thing, too. At any rate, our first encounter with the chicken finger “concept” was Jim Bob’s. We were passing through Opelika, Alabama. A little past Columbus, GA, but well short of Montgomery, AL. We didn’t have any road food recommendations, so we were shooting in the dark.
But alas, it was Sunday. I guess Jim Bob (or a higher power) was trying to tell us something. I suppose we were hungering for the wrong kind of sustenance, because they were closed.
So we headed across the street to Zaxby’s. Of course Zaxby’s started in Statesboro, so this was an appropriate choice.
Eliza didn’t have anything. My ordering experience was a debacle, but finally I returned to the car with this little beauty.
Only three chicken fingers!? I guess we’ll have to stop for more down the road.
A few hours later, we considered stopping at a Popeye’s in Mobile, but it looked a little sketchy. We decided to gamble on another fried chicken joint called foosackly’s. I was a little skeptical of the name, but was charmed when we stepped inside.
“Keep Mobile Funky.” Sounds familiar.
I absolutely loved the design of this place. It spoke to me, and here’s what it said: “We just got out of school and decided to sell chicken fingers. We took some marketing classes and we wear our hats backwards.”
They offered us some of their signature sauce, which I think was called “foo sauce.” The woman at the register told us, “It’s like a spicy thousand island.” Nothing wrong with that.
The whole foosackly’s experience was great. They chicken was fried and seasoned to perfection. The foo sauce (or whatever they called it) was exactly what fried chicken needs: a little creamy, a little spicy and a little sweet.
Later on the trip, we saw several of these “Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers.” These sightings confirmed what we had begun to suspect: Alabama loves chicken fingers. Not fried chicken, mind you, but chicken fingers.
Still no official word on whether stars falling is a good thing.