air fryer

Fry me to the moon

January 28, 2021

   I’ve written earlier that having grown up in the Deep South, the first rule of cooking is, if you don’t know what it is, fry it. In the bayou country of Louisiana, where my family comes from, that maxim is a little more refined: if it moves, fry it.

   Thus it was, I grew up on a dietary hierarchy that was less a pyramid, than a parabola, trapezoid, rhombus or any geometric configuration suggesting a late life of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. (I’ve so far avoided two of these, but I’m also not dead yet.)

   Over the years, the adult women in my life sought to free me from the shackles of deep fat, fried foods, all with limited success, especially when it came to chicken, potatoes and veal parm. What these Women of the Broil failed to achieve with recipe, they succeeded with infrequency of provision. In Carol’s case, she has admirably fended off basket fryers and fry babies on the home front, while limiting trips to Popeyes, as if its drive thru were a bucket list pilgrimage.

   Then came the recent (I suppose) invention of the air fryer. Let’s set aside investigations of potential high energy consumption, and the possible application of atomic fission necessary to transform the molecules of what must be very hot air into the effects of hot oil, and just focus on outcomes.

   Save for a spray of Pam, no oil was harmed in the making of these “fried” foods, such a French fries, chicken tenders and wings. The time it takes may be a bit longer than deep fat frying, but we’re still only talking about fifteen minutes or so going from raw to having those wonderful light brown crumbs down the front of your shirt.

In my former turkey frying days, I admit I was a miniature version of the Exxon Valdez, when it came to disposing of all that peanut oil.

   Then there is the kitchen that doesn’t smell like a KFC joint for three days after a big fry, and the environmental angst that comes with disposing of the oil. (In my former turkey frying days, I admit I was a miniature version of the Exxon Valdez, when it came to disposing of all that peanut oil.) And the front of your shirt remains grease free as well!

   But the biggest and most pleasant surprise has been Carol. Rather than view the air fryer with the same disdain I would expect if she were to find me suddenly exercising, say, my Second Amendment rights, she’s behaved so far as if we’ve adopted a rescue pet. She’s been printing online cookbooks, clipping recipes and sharing prep tips with her daughter (she was the pioneer of the unit in the family). Of course, most of their ideas center more around flora rather than fauna (green beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts), but I’m learning to take the good with the bad, as long as “fried” will become a food adjective in my life again. It could have been a lot worse. It could have been a hummus or tofu maker, if such things even exist.

   And, no, a turkey doesn’t fit in the air fryer.

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