Joe bennett when chicken’s off the menu at kfc you know there is a problem – nz herald chicken gizzard recipes indian style

Kentucky fried chicken is global. So global that it changed its name to KFC for universal comprehension. It has built its restaurants wherever there’s money to spend and people to spend it, so that now you can circumambulate the globe in all its succulent and limitless variety and eat only kentucky fried chicken as you go.

KFC has become a point of safety, of cultural refuge, a culinary embassy if you will, for that most timid beast of human history, the western tourist.

And in particular for the much-mocked american tourist, defined as one who wishes to leave home without leaving home, who sees, if we are to be frank, no difference between abroad and disneyland, who expects his wad of US dollars to defang the world, to prettify it, to falsify it, to homogenise it, and to cause it to deliver, wherever and whenever he should wish, which is everywhere and often, a meal of deep fried chicken.

And it was the opposite of a KFC restaurant.Kentucky fried chicken for what the red and white KFC totem pole announces is dragonlessness. Here, says the totem pole, is self-replicating familiarity. Here is the world tamed by formica and plastic seating. Here is a menu effectively post-linguistic. Look. It is food made of pictures and batman language – zingers and zappers and wicked wings. It is cartoon food.

And it is illustrated in hyper-reality, a sort of stained glass window, featuring spectacular mock-ups of the food on offer: towering burgers, glistening flesh-heaps, whip-tipped rhinoceran sundaes, the ideal forms of plato’s fast-food cave. It’s a feast for the fancy, the imagination illustrated, a hall of fame for flesh and fat.

The disparity between the food as illustrated and its limp and earthly equivalent is somehow baked into the deal, as is the dispirited youth in dispiriting uniform who hands it over. These days we’re so proficient in commercial mendacity that we don’t think to be disappointed.Fried chicken just as the petitioner feels no surprise or bitterness when his prayers aren’t answered.

Pictured on the totem pole is the ideal old man, the colonel, trim-bearded, avuncular, reassurance in a white suit, southern gentility serving protein.

There was an actual colonel once, a colonel who cooked, but he died half a lifetime back and has since suffered a sea change into pure commercial myth. Relax, he bellows from high on his pole in dubai or dubrovnik, siberia or the sudan, it’s all okay, I’m here. Let me fry you something that tastes of home. I am the new st jude, the comforter of travellers.

And what food he fries. Chicken, the flesh of the world’s most populous bird, the bird that lives for 41 days without seeing daylight, the bird that we rear and slaughter at the rate of a hundred million a day.

The colonel hacks it into chunks and fries it and sells it to be addressed not with cutlery, but with fingers. It’s civility inverted.Kentucky fried chicken it’s reversion to the cave. It’s pulling at the hot meat and sucking the bones. It’s state of nature eating. It’s the later chapters of lord of the flies, the primitive feast, the invitation to gorge. Buy a bucket, a whole bucket of bird flesh.

And that primitivism has become an advertising mantra. The chicken, famously, is finger-licking good. At one and the same time it is childish and it is commercially sophisticated, it is primitive and it is profitable. So profitable that it’s spread round the world like the flu. When I was a kid it was only in kentucky.

Now it is one of the pillars of an empire, the american cultural empire, founded on the appetites. For though the states has the world’s largest military, its most potent weapons have been movies, fizzy drinks and fast food. They are potent because they are loved.

How loved? As loved as follows: in the UK last week kentucky fried chicken temporarily ran out of chicken.Fried chicken restaurants had to close. There was much mockery of course and the KFC organisation had to do some fast and dramatic PR work to try to earn forgiveness. So much, in this modern world one would expect. But there was another outfit that felt the need to issue a statement. It was the police.

"Please do not contact us about the #kfccrisis – it is not a police matter if your favourite eatery is not serving the menu that you desire."