A long time ago I read a biography of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis in which Miles told the story about his frustrations with Charlie Parker at supper time. My memory is sketchy on the details, but the gist was that at the time Miles was with a woman who was an excellent cook and made the very best fried chicken and corn bread. Charlie Parker loved fried chicken and corn bread and had a special E.S.P. regarding when the Davis’s would be having it for dinner. On those nights, Parker would arrive at supper time, exploit the rules of courtesy to get himself a seat at the table, sit down, and eat up all the Davis’s fried chicken and cornbread.This put Mile’s nose of of joint because he favored chicken and cornbread too, and with Parker around, there was so much less for him. For some reason this story has stuck with me, and I began to serve cornbread with my chicken.

I don’t remember having cornbread with chicken much when I was a kid. As I recall, we usually ate rice with our chicken. It was plain, white rice, – actually it was instant rice. That meant it was extra fluffy, kind of like the white Wonder bread we ate at lunch.Those were the days. When we’d go out to family restaurants, typically chicken dinners came with mashed potatoes and gravy. And if by some chance we went to some place really fancy, the chicken was served with wild rice. When we were out west in Colorado, chicken often came with beans, those starchy red kidney beans in a sauce that could be sweet, or not. I didn’t fancy beans too much. I still don’t.

That Charlie Parker story converted me to preferring cornbread with my chicken. And I finally found an excellent cornbread recipe. Oh, I’ve been baking cornbread for decades. It’s fast and easy, and if you bake it with buttermilk it’s absolutely delicious. But last week I baked cornbread according to Donna Weihofen’s recipe which calls for whole corn added to the batter. Perhaps you already knew this secret for making great cornbread, but it was a revelation to me. I served it with tomato curry chicken and it made the meal! Click on “continue reading…” for the cornbread recipe.

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