Revolutionary fast food: Anthony Bourdain samples Libya’s ‘Uncle Kentaki’ chicken

Welcome to the exciting world of Libya's post-revolutionary cuisine, as toured by CNN's traveling gourmand, Anthony Bourdain. In the above video, he visits the traditional spice stalls, as well as a newer addition: Uncle Kentaki, an unabashed rip-off of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He joins a local Libyan over a box of Uncle Kentaki's finest, reviewing it as "spicy and delicious," concluding "bismallah," which translates literally as "in the name of God" and is used both in prayer and as an idiom to express wonder.

Neither American fast food chains nor knock-offs were permitted in Libya under Moammar Gaddafi's decades of rule, but that's changed since his ouster in 2011. The influx of American-style food has followed a dramatic upsurge in pro-American attitudes in Libya, where the United States is very popular for its role in aiding Gaddafi's exit.

Kentucky Fried Chicken, one of America's most famous exports can sometimes seem like a stand-in for America in the Middle East. Last September, in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, protesters furious over the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" burned down a nearby KFC as they chanted anti-American slogans.

In Egypt during that country's revolution, government  protesters and President Hosni Mubarak alike used KFC to attempt to discredit one another. Mubarak's state media claimed that protesters had been paid by foreign governments to demonstrate, bought off in KFC sandwiches. The protesters, portrayed Mubarak as KFC mascot Colonel Sanders, both to mock the earlier claims that they'd been bribed with fried chicken and perhaps to associate the Egyptian president with the United States.

Update: A reader sends along this photo, from the dinner bar at the Radisson Blu hotel in Tripoli, Libya. He writes of the Chicken kin tachy, "This one was pretty tasty," although he adds, "I had some out at a fake KFC by Martyr's Square that was terrible."


(Adrian Hong)

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