After spending a stretch of days in remote destinations, living off a diet of Clif Bars, PB&J sandwiches, and my own boring cooking, I was ready for some urban dining when I got to Tucson. Goodness knows, there are opportunities here with a lineup of chain restaurants to attract the masses to the most upscale of strip malls. There are Pizza Parlours, Taquerias, tamale houses, noodle houses, steak houses galore, and that’s all without ever even leaving the “main drag” of Oracle Road right outside Catalina State Park.
With the vast variety of fancy restaurant fare to choose from, I had been looking forward to “getting my ethnic on,” in some exotic Indian or Asian fusion fantasy. Instead, I ended up in a chain chicken joint, “The Lucky Wishbone” –a fast food fried chicken eatery that caters mostly to take-out, with a few aluminum chairs dotted around the white tiled sterile counter. Not exactly ambiance, but I wasn’t there for the setting. I was there for the piece of chicken known as the wishbone, or more fondly referred to in my family as the “pulley bone!”
I venture to say, most people today never heard of a wishbone, unless it is a salad dressing. I can imagine even fewer know the term “pulley bone.” It is essentially the collar bone, or fused clavicle of the chicken, which when left intact, is the symbol known as the “wishbone.” (Apologies to my vegetarian/vegan friends!) The only way to obtain this special cut of the chicken is by hand-carving the chicken, in my case, by a loving mother.
Growing up in the south, Mom to this day still fries most everything. But as kids, her fried chicken was a special treat. And since there was only one wishbone, it was a given that a fight would break out over who got the pulley bone. My older brother always seemed to win this sibling squabble. As the oldest in the family, he always got to pick his favorite piece. He not only got his wish with the prized piece of chicken, but in the wishbone battle as well. (What? Me bitter?) 😉
Like a box of Cracker Jacks with the prize inside, the wishbone comes with its own toy imbedded. Each player grabs an end, makes a wish, and whomever ends up with the bigger piece of the wishbone is the lucky winner whose wish was promised to come true. Of course, there is a strategy. Getting one’s thumb highest up the apex of the wishbone typically assures a win, which ultimately results in a game of thumb-wrestling.
I haven’t seen this cut of chicken since I was a child, so when I read in the Yelp reviews about “The Lucky Wishbone,” well, I simply can’t resist. My wishbone comes right out of the deep fat fryer, too hot to even bite into. The crust is a golden crunchy brown, and the meat, juicy, white and tender. But I hardly taste it for the anticipation of getting down to the wishbone to relive one of our most memorable family traditions. But sadly, like most attempts at recreating childhood memories, the present day version falls short. Alas, my wishbone had already been broken…
Meanwhile, here is a great way to burn off the calories consumed at the Lucky Wishbone…Romero Pools hike from Catalina State Park. A beautiful 2.8 mile OW out and back hike with an elevation gain of 900 Ft. Add on another mile from Ringtail Overflow to the trail head, and you have a respectable 7 to 8 miles.
It’s a steep climb up, up, up on an unseasonably hot Tucson spring day. Young athletic types pass me wearing skimpy clothes and swimsuits under their spandex, offering the promise of a dip in the pool as relief from the baking sun directly overhead. Finally after what feels like I have been climbing up and over the devil’s own wishbone to reach his watering hole, I reach the pools…barely enough water to soak my Manhattan-born blister, let alone a refreshing dip. But a beautiful hike nonetheless…