Day Two: Recap – Love Me Tenders

I love chicken fingers. Whether they’re called fingers, tenders, strips, nuggets, or fried-bird-flu, I’m all about these crisp and succulent delights. Imagine my joy to find that the grocery store down the hill sells them by the pound – fryolated to near perfection!

There are few pleasures in life that rival a fine meal

There are few pleasures in life that rival a fine meal with great presentation.

True chicken finger perfection is reserved for Tamarack, a small take-out place in Laconia, NH not 500 feet away from the incredible arcade, Funspot.

When I was a kid my grandfather would take me up to Lake Winnipesaukee almost every weekend in the summer. It was a long car ride, about two hours, so I would usually take a copy of Nintendo Power or EGM to read on the way up. He’d wave his long brown More brand cigarette in front of the air conditioner vents (which were always on full blast) and hum along as Bob Seager wailed on the radio.

Once at the lake we’d take the motor boat out for a spin. I’d bring my magazine with me and struggle to read about the latest Castlevania or Bubsy the Bobcat or what-have-you while the boat was rattling and bouncing over choppy wakes and I was chafing and roasting in a tight life vest that stank mildewy.

On Sunday afternoon, a few hours before it was time to head home, my grandfather would drop me off at Funspot with a 20 dollar bill, which was a small fortune for a trip to the arcade. If I had been smart and held onto some of that, I would have had a sizable wad of cash by the end of the summer. But instead I cashed it all in for tokens as soon as I got through the doors. Like a slot machine jackpot, the token dispenser would rattle and clatter as it coughed up a landslide of bronzeish clown coins into my plastic cup.

Outside Funspot the coins were worthless. But inside, I was a high roller. I could swagger up to any game cabinet like James Bond at a baccarat table safe in the knowledge that I could out-continue pretty much any kid or teenage punk in the joint. I could claim “next” on Street Fighter pretty much all afternoon if I wanted to. Or rather, I could if my grandfather wasn’t coming back in a few hours to pick me up.

In addition to all the latest games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mortal Kombat, Funspot also had a lower level with strange relics. A lot of them were pinball-like, or games of chance. Most were purely mechanical, driven by moving parts instead of circuit boards and code. Scores were displayed by little cards with the digits 0 – 9 printed on them that would rapidly flip and clack as the numbers changed. Despite their age, almost all of the machines were in perfect condition.

Not to mention some perspective issues with her legs

Not to mention some perspective issues with her legs

I’d usually finish the afternoon in a delirious haze having been bombarded with sights and sounds for two hours. My grandfather would pick me up and the inside of the car would still smell like air conditioner, Armor All, and cigarettes. Then we’d buzz around the corner and pick up some chicken fingers at Tamarack.

The chicken fingers came in greasy paper bag with some sweet dipping sauce. It may have been called sweet and sour, I don’t really remember. But whatever it was called, it was sweet and kind of peachy and orangey. Not sour at all. The batter was flakey and buttery and dissolved on the tongue almost immediately. The chicken itself was thick and soft; wet and salty as you bit into it. The chicken fingers left your human fingers more oily than any napkin could hope to overcome. The overall experience was something like eating warm meat candy, and it was a perfect way to end the weekend.

Since then I’ve enjoyed Chili’s and Applebee’s offerings, each for their own spin on the classic. The local grocery store here does well for itself. And, Friendly’s – bless its heart – tries, but sometimes their chicken is kind of fishy and that just breaks the spell, doesn’t it?

I can’t defend chicken fingers on the basis of their nutritional value. They are highly processed to the point where there’s really no resemblance between the “tender” nodule and a clucking scratching bird. Its a food product that started life as meat and grain and along the way became food-like construct, got deep fried, and is no doubt oozing with fat and the dreaded trans-fat.

Still, despite their obvious shortcomings as a food, every chicken finger regardless of quality, texture, or taste is a like an old friend in my mouth.

… You know what I mean.

Nutrition Facts:

Total Calories: 2612
Calories from Fat: 1104
Fat: 129.07 grams
Carbohydrates: 261.52 grams
Fiber: 9 grams
Protein: 97.99 grams

Exercise Level: Low

Walking 1 mile (easy)
Housekeeping 4 hours (easy)

Foods Devoured

Fried Chicken Tenders
Honey Mustard Sauce
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich
Pepsi Max
Vanilla Yogurt with Chocolate Chunks
Chicken Mole
Spanish Rice
Irish Creamy Booze Drinks

Once again almost half of today’s calories came from fat. What’s more, I couldn’t really calculate just how bad the dessert drink that I mixed up was. It had splashes of lots of different alcohols, and a lot of Irish Cream. You may not be surprised to learn that alcoholic cream isn’t super healthy.

The chicken molé was quite tasty, and had it not been the capper for a day full of idulgences would have been a fine main course.