Apocalypse. The End of the World. We kind of morbidly fantasize about it. Any zombie movie reflects back our vision for our own end. Overpopulation, greed, arrogance, the world moving too quickly for its own good, humanity’s god-complex: any of these could be plot points for the first five minutes of a sci-fi horror film, or the last five minutes – depending on whether you’re watching Terminator or 28 Days Later.

But here’s the thing. The world has already ended. At least, that’s what it felt like almost 700 years ago.

The Black Death changed everything. And out of that grief, a seismic cultural shift away from the divine to the human had begun. The Renaissance, was underway.

On today’s episode of my food history podcast A Time and A Plate, we sail on Genoese galleys into battle, get a front row seat to the apocalypse, have a wake for the world, and watch a great city fade into a living museum. But don’t worry, there’s fried chicken along the way.

Today I’m joined by my friend and favorite chef, Jason Neroni. (Jason’s accolades include the title of Eater’s 2012 “Chef of the Year” and a James Beard Award for his contribution to the cookbook “Notes from a Kitchen.” ) When were discussing the food of 14th Century Italy, Venice specifically, he kept going back to the flavor combination agrodulce. Sweet and sour. This flavor marked the high Middle Ages, permeating almost every recipe. Jason is combining it here, with his famous fried chicken. The combination is wonderful, and trust me, you’ll want to put this sauce on everything, it’s like a secret weapon!

For the bibliography from today’s episode, scroll to the bottom!


1 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup brown sugar

5 cloves chopped garlic

squeeze of 1 lemon 

2 pickled chilies, jalapeno preferred


Add red wine vinegar and sugar to a pot and put on medium heat. Cook for until reduced by 3/4. A glaze should form. Add the the rest of the ingredients and reserve at room temp.


This is 2 day process.

8 chicken pieces, i prefer thighs.

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups of corn starch

2 cups of all-purpose four

2 tablespoons of garlic powder

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons black pepper


Marinate chicken in buttermilk over night.

Preheat a fryer(323 F) or skillet to medium heat. Oil set to a shallow fry, pull the chicken out of the marinade and put directly in the flour mixture. Let the chicken soak up the flour for 10 minutes or so. Then, slowly add to the fryer and cook while turning until golden brown. About 10 -15 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes. Then glaze the chicken in the agrodulce. Finish with a dusting of grated parmesan. Serve.

Bibliography for Today’s Episode:

City of Fortune b y Roger Crowley

Taste of Conquest by Michael Krondl

Marco Polo by Laurence Bergreen

The Land of Five Flavors by Thomas O. Hollmann

Chopsticks: A Cultural and Culinary History by Q. Edward Wang

Cuisine and culture: A History of Food and People by Linda Civitello.

Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present, under the direction of Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari 

History of food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat