Thursday, October 31, 2019


If you happen to read Chaka! Through the Fire, the autobiography of Chaka Khan, you’ll become aware of a moment in Detroit, after Chaka has played a gig at the Fox Theater,  go into a White Castle on the way back to the hotel.

White Castle is, as they say, an American regional hamburger chain with 377 locations across 13 states, mostly in the Midwest, though there did used to be at least one in New York City.  This is a White Castle in Detroit though I can’t swear it’s the one Chaka’s crew went to.  

White Castle is famous for its rather small hamburgers, though they obviously do other things too, including fish sandwiches.

Chaka is reluctant at first but then wouldn’t you know it, but things develop in the course of the journey, 'by then, I had a taste for a fish sandwich or two. By the time we reached White Castle, thinking about how tiny their sandwiches are, I’d upped the number to four.’

They arrive at White Caste, a few of them go in, Chaka stays in the limo.  She decides things are moving too slowly so she goes into the White Castle to hurry them up.  This has foreseeable consequences.
‘In my impatience, I’d forgotten that I wasn’t a “regular” person, or at least, I couldn’t live like one.  Clearly my presence was causing chaos.’ so she returns to the limo.

‘When Lisa (one of the backing singers) and the others finally emerged with the food – oops. Lisa had eaten two fish sandwiches too many while waiting for the others.
‘“Girl” I was halfway mad. Between the waiting and my appetite ... I really wanted my four!’
So she sends Lisa back in.
‘When Lisa came out she was trailed by one of the counter girls, with a huge, free bag of fish sandwiches.
‘How beautiful.’
Yes indeed what could be more beautiful than a fast food worker giving free food to a rich diva. Did Chaka give the girl a big tip? If so, she doesn’t mention it in the book.  She says gave the girl a hug.

There is in fact a joint in Barcelona named Chaka Khan,  that styles itself a ‘gastro bar exotique‘.  As far I can tell (I mean, their menu, which I've seen online, is long, labyrinthine, multilingual and inscrutable) they don’t serve fish sandwiches.

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