There are some things in life that you should not mess with, like the tire for instance, it should always remain round, it works and there is no point in turning back now. In another instance the pop-tart, this is something that should never be trifled with, it works on so many different levels that to fool with it would be a travesty of some sort. Then there are things that are expected, things that humans have grown accustomed to and it would be downright unfaithful of someone to try to stand in the way in which humans habituate.
Did you know that the name “Amina” means honest and faithful in Arabic, when I read the word honest I think of true, and when I read the word faithful it translates to me, constant. This name is not only pretty, but it is an attention grabber, and one that makes me want to lean in for more, to find out exactly what you are being faithful and true to. So when the opportunity came for me to check out AMINA in Old City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I jumped at the chance.
First up, fried catfish hush puppies, now I have to admit fried foods are like a gateway drug, that tend to lead to hard things like lard and pig feet, but if you are not afraid of a little temptation then these hush puppies will be moving you in the right direction. Catfish is not a fish for everyone, but it definitely should be. Some are freaked out by the name, but I am dazzled by the taste, it is a mild sweet fish that can definitely hold its own in the fish world. When you take this delicate fish and endeavor to make a hush puppy, what the chef is really saying on the low is “let me show you my skill set real quick.” Why would I deem this a skill, well let me take a moment to share. You see on a glance a hush puppy can seem remedial and just another fried piece of cornbread, but when done right, both components become the shining star, you are able to get fish in every single bite, the cornbread is not overpowering, it is not even competing, it is doing exactly what it was designed to do,which is to serve a binder, and enhancer, a comforter, and a texture giver, that is full of flavor with every single bite. When you take that hush puppy and swirl it around in the remoulade sauce, you have essentially made a bite size piece of loveliness that had my wanting to come back for more and more.
Second up, was the collard greens, now I would love to write that the first thing that grabbed me with these greens was the taste, but no it was the presentation. Now I don’t know who came up with the term “we eat with our eyes,” but that is certainly a true statement. When the pretty small tub of greens came to the table I not only felt elated that my veggie quota was being met for the day, but every green was tender and delicious, the potlikker was delightfully seasoned, and there was nothing missing and nothing broken in the area of these greens, now this is what I call hedging your bets, because there is no salt nor pepper on the tables at Amina, so either they are very confident or being over zealous.
Last up, the fried chicken basket. Now I don’t know who doesn’t want fried chicken after a long work week to make all the angst of the week go away, but I certainly do. Fried chicken speaks to gratification and snugness, and when done befittingly it has the ability to not only satiate, but bring about a bliss that is undeniable. But when the dart shot moves so far away from the target that it makes you wonder if we all had the same target in our sights, dread ensues, and what exactly can cause such dread??? Wheat flour, you read correctly, wheat flour.
Every chef worth his/her salt knows that fried chicken requires white flour. White flour is absolutely essential to get that crispiness your tongue and your heart desires, it acts like some type of glue that keeps that juiciness in all the right places, and when you add wheat flour you lose all the goodness you had the potential of having. That wheat flour in the chicken basket, made every bite taste nutty, fried chicken should not taste nutty, granted it looked crispy, but it deceived me in the same manner as a fake Louie bag.
Yes it is probably true that white flour is not great or even good for you, I guess I can look at the glass half full and be thankful that someone was concerned about my arteries, but I know exactly what I am in for when I order fried chicken, I am well aware of the consequences, I am a maverick, a rebel, and when I order fried chicken, I want all the grease, all the white flour, all the juicy, all the flavor, and all the crunch, in a nutshell I want all the smoke.
Amina almost everything I ordered was spot on, almost all of it caused my heart and my palate to light up with glee, but somewhere towards the end a little deviation from the expected turned my smile into a slight frown. However, what I am going to do is use this wheat flour incident as a slight infraction, meaning I will be back, because I am fully convinced that all the other items will be spectacular and worth trying and honestly not to give grace and an opportunity to show your honesty and faithfulness would not be fair of me. Until next time Amina, until next time🍽️