Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bring back Chicken Maryland

It’s time to talk turkey. Actually, no. I’m more wanting to talk about Chicken Maryland. It means a few different things in various countries, but in Australia in the 1970’s it was a staple menu item in some (most?) restaurants and eateries, generally attached to various community and service clubs. In this country, the Returned Servicemen’s League (RSL), established clubs that welcomed ex-military personnel and their families for evenings of camaraderie, a few drinks, and eventual eats in the dining room that were (and still are) convenient and great value.

But of concern is the departure from history that the menus of these establishments have undergone. Today, some have entirely become ‘Thai’ or ‘Chinese’ or in earlier years ‘Italian’. It seems that when the 1970’s moved on, menus had to become more ‘continental’, more savvy, more chic.

Now, apart from the demise of Chicken Maryland (which I remember was a pan or deep fried chicken leg or thigh, along with a deep fried banana and pineapple ring), Chicken in a Basket is also gone (roast chicken on a bed of potato chips…gravy optional)! Thankfully, the Prawn Cocktail entrée can still sometimes be discovered, although these days it resembles something more glamorous like ‘tapas’ but without a brown bread triangle in sight. At least the sauce tastes familiar.

This is a calamity. Waning popularity of these dishes is a national disgrace. How hard is it really? Make the choice: A roast chicken leg donned with a little chef’s hat, or Chicken Tikka Masala? Foie Gras-Banana Bread Terrine or the Roast of the Day (go for the lamb), with extra chips?

So popular were these ‘old fashioned’ dishes with the customers, individuals would often remain loyal to one dish only, ordering “the usual” everytime. “I only have the cauliflower mornay…”, “…the kidneys in wine...”, “…chicken a la king…”. Saying “I only ever have the Carbonnade Flamande,” was considered very exotic indeed.

It’s time to resurrect the Chicken Maryland and its menu cousins. Write to your local club, your corner restaurant, your local member of parliament and have this iconic dish returned to the tables of Australia
Thank you, and enjoy your After Dinner Mint.