As a child, my parents and I drove along 141 and Buford Highway, passing clubs with large, bright neon signs, and I didn’t give it much thought. One was in the same shopping centre as the Korean restaurant where we used to get our hot wings after church on Sundays, with a sign reading “Girls Girls Girls.” There was a time when Kevin, my older sibling, complained to my mother, “How come only girls get to go there?”
Oasis Goodtime Emporium had a palm tree sticking out of the A on the sign overlooking Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta. As a student in high school, I had the opportunity to perform at an open-mic night across the street from Pink Pony, a rosé-roofed castle. As an adult, driving along these highways, I’m able to connect the dots between the food I was familiar with as a child and the context I now understand. When you finally fill in a colouring book after years of only drawing the outlines, it’s an exhilarating feeling.
Canonically, lemon pepper doesn’t just consist of lemon and pepper. In commercial blends, the sweet sugar, tart citric acid, and savoury onion or garlic powder are the primary ingredients (or both). Creating your own blend at home, on the other hand, gives you complete control over the final product’s scent, which in and of itself is well worth the effort. Rasp some fresh lemon zest and black pepper together with your fingers for a fragrant concoction. The citrus gains a musky undertone, and the pepper takes on a balsamic fragrance from both.
Wings with lemon-pepper seasoning can be made in a variety of ways, just like the variety of lemon-pepper seasonings. Buffalo-style wings with a sprinkling of lemon-pepper seasoning, known as “lemony pepper wet,” are the most popular order at J.R. Crickets. When the TV show “Atlanta” mentioned this famous chicken-wing order in 2016, I knew I was onto something. In addition to the Falcons game, a number of locals were gathered around several television sets to watch it. Similar to the order at American Deli, this sauce is more lemony, with buttery and sharp flavours. There is nothing wrong with adding a dash of turmeric to the colour of these wings.
Lemon pepper doesn’t just belong on chicken wings. Lemon pepper is a secret weapon when slathered on salmon steaks or sprinkled on thinly sliced bulgogi beef before grilling. Pizza is a great way to enjoy it. Prior to the pandemic, Matthew Foster had been working on a variety of entertainment projects on the road. A lemon-pepper wet pizza, a pie with lemon-pepper sauce, pieces of chicken drumettes, and two air-fried lemon-pepper flats, or wings, in the centre, was his first creation while in quarantine.
Asked himself questions such as, “What would we like to see on pizza?” he said, this concoction came to him while he was “thinking about my culture, African American culture.” And what about pizza? “How would pizza be made in the South?” Despite their Neapolitan origins, Foster’s pies are what he calls “metropolitan” because they draw inspiration from both the Italian and the Southern cultures. This has been my go-to flavour combination ever since I was little,” he admitted. A “comfort thing” that brings back memories of home.
Because of this, “The reason you are here” is Magic City Kitchen’s tagline for its cuisine. Lemon pepper is king in Atlanta. There’s a chance you’ll see Clippers guard Lou Williams there, whether you’re there for the food or the show. Atlanta Hawks have since drafted him.