Late Night Read: “The Pengest Munch” tackles inflation
It’s late. You’re waiting for the subway or for a cab. You’re hiding in the bathroom at a party. You’re browsing the web before bed. No matter where you are, you need something to look at on your phone. Enter: the Night Water Late Night Read.
Like many, I first heard about “The Pengest Munch”—a YouTube series that reviews the fried chicken joints of London—back when it went viral in 2016. I sent one of The Chicken Connoisseur’s first videos to my British girlfriend for a bit of help translating.
“well first of all do you know what peng means?” she wrote back. “it’s usually used to describe a sexy girl.”
“but he’s using it to describe chicken?” I asked.
“yeah. like sexy chicken.”
Peng didn’t quite make it into our daily vocabulary, but we did adopt the Connoisseur’s particular way of rating the restaurants—“Out of five?” he asks himself, before delivering his final score. If we ate a particularly peng burrito? “Out of five? 4.5.” If we went to see a mediocre film? “Out of five? 3.5.” If one of our cats threw up on the carpet? “Out of five? Zero. Absolute zero.”
The New York Times nabbed The Chicken Connoisseur—real name Elijah Quashie—for an interview about inflation earlier this week, and it’s a great look at the effects inflation and “The Pengest Munch” have had on the London chicken shop scene in the last six years.
Since he started his show, prices have roughly doubled, with a huge leap at the start of the pandemic. Mr Quashie’s go-to combination for every review — fries, four wings, a chicken burger and a soda — used to cost about 2.5 pounds, or roughly $3. That same meal is now £5 or £6 and occasionally more.
“The prices are mad,” he said a few months back, winding up his review of the Chicken Cottage shop in Ladbroke Grove in West London. “Four wings and chips, £4. Reckless. But these are the times we’re living in.”