One sad thing, though, is the precise reason why fried chicken is something you shouldn't eat every day:
In a process called glycation, glucose reacts with protein, resulting in sticky, sugar-damaged proteins called advanced glycated end products (AGEs). When protein is damaged, it cannot function properly or communicate properly with other cells. AGEs also promote inflammation and free radical oxidation throughout the body. AGEs cause skin to wrinkle, and wrinkling and damage to the lining of arteries contributes to plaque and heart attacks. It can promote the formation of cataracts, macular degeneration, and eventual blindness.
The glycation process has also been linked to the destruction of protein and nerve cells that can lead to Alzheimer's disease, memory loss and various neuropathies. Heating of starches (especially frying them, like french fries and chips) can produce a type of glycated protein called acrilamides, which are potent carcinogens.
See? I told you it was the breading, not the oil. Granted, the author says heating starches "can" cause this reaction, but not under what circumstances, i.e. how high a temperature. Oh well. I put out a fryer to thaw this morning, and I'm going to enjoy it.
On an amusing side note, my sister and I finally convinced my mother to switch from Parkay to butter, partly as a result of a little health scare my Dad had in December. He's fine, but I took the opportunity to brow-beat her about all the Crisco and margarine they eat. Finally, at Christmas, my sister added her "yucks!" to the makeup of margarine and Mom caved. Yesterday on the phone, she was asking me how I stored my butter, how fast it would go rancid at room temperature, and so on.
"I tried making a batch of oatmeal cookies with butter," she told me in a hushed voice, as if she were doing something subversive (which in a way, she was; I feel that way myself sometimes).
"Oh? How'd that work out?" I said casually, because I already knew the answer.
"Y'know, I just wasn't really happy with my baking this year," she said. Mom is the champion baker of the family. Her dinner and cinnamon rolls are legend, and I have to admit I prefer her pie crust to mine but I still think I can beat it. "Nothing was really bad, it just wasn't up to my standards."
"You said something about texture," I remembered.
"Right! They were... not as light. Kind of doughy. So I looked at the back of the Parkay box and saw that it was made with soybean oil. I could've sworn it used to be corn oil."
"Yes, that's what I remember, too."
"But these oatmeal cookies turned out really good. They got browner on the tops and they had a nice crispy rim around the bottoms that your dad really liked, but they were still moist on the inside."
"You don't say."
"Of course that was your great-grandma Rella's recipe, so it was originally intended to be made with butter."
"And you know that she used to make all her pie crusts with lard." Sigh. "I guess I'll have to try that next."
She's half-kidding. She's following the same path of logic I went down a few years ago. Even those of us who pride ourselves on being open-minded and open-eyed and logical fall into traps of convenience and the so-called "common knowledge" of our age. I could make a point about how everybody living in single-family homes, isolated from the wisdom and method of our grandparents, is having an effect, but I think it's more sinister than that. My grandparents are the worst of the processed-food consumptors. They eat Lite this and Diet that, and probably haven't seen a non-trans-fat in ten years. Meanwhile my grandmother is having all these nerve problems and chronic back pain. I really want to get some butter and olive oil into the woman, but that's a battle I don't expect to win. Unfortunately she's always been a little too eager to believe what authority figures tell her--authority being doctors and the talking heads on TV.
But, I've about got my mom swung around. Now if I can just get her to use olive oil to fry instead of Crisco. I know she knows I'm doing it; I've mentioned it several times, but she claims Dad likes the taste of Crisco. I'd bet a hundred bucks that if he quit eating it his heartburn would go away.