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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Winging Wing Night in Canada - Finding the Perfect Wings and Beer with the Two Cowboys

Becoming Canadian

There are two ways how Canada let you in and accept you into its inner circle. No matter where you come from in the world, if you participate in these two sacred rites, you are Canadian! No, bashing the kid (Justin Trudeau) is not the way to do it.

The surest way to become Canadian is through a game of shinny (social ice hockey) with a few oldtimers. This is the hardest way to learn to understand Canada. Especially, when you are from a warm country and never learned to ice skate in the first place. With ice hockey, comes a unique language and an understanding of its people. An understanding that will continue to elude you unless you are willing to step into a stinky locker room, suit up with frozen hockey gear, lace up your skates and step onto the hockey ice. Don't ever expect to keep up. Instead, you are bound to become their comic relief in perpetuity. Canadians will respect you for it and you will have the bruises to prove it.

The second, and a less painful way (which is debatable) is when you are invited to wing night on hump day. This is a story about surviving wing night in Canada.


I realize that we may be using highly technical Canadian vernacular in this post. Therefore, before we go any further, we have to provide insight into the complicated concepts associated with the phenomena. Firstly, wing night is usually on hump day.

Hump day is the middle of a work week. It is usually Wednesday when your week starts on a Monday. The term is used in the context of climbing a proverbial hill to get through a tough week. After hump day, the weekend gets closer. Depending on your age and degree of attachment, it can also be your lucky day. However, if you do wing night on hump day, then your lucky day is probably on Sunday. The bottom line is, regardless of your luck, that hump day calls for a celebration. That is why you do wing night on hump day.

No one is sure when it started. I am not aware of any official society that sets policy or lay down the rules. However, it is commonly accepted that wing night is a ceremonial and sacred evening during which many chicken wings will be eaten by a gathering of gluttonous friends.

Each step of the preparation and consumption of the wings is carefully orchestrated and held holy. The recipes are kept secret by a devoted few man cave dwelling culinary experts that opt to prepare their own. Else, a local favourite watering hole is the likely destination of choice. Just because there is no formal fraternity, it doesn't mean there are no rules. Wing night comes with a rich tradition of ritual. Deviation from tradition is strictly and violently forbidden. For example, inviting your girlfriend, not eating until breathing is difficult and all wings are done, leaving early, not toasting the first wing, not getting everyone a beer when yours is finished or when you get up prematurely, bringing non-wing food to the gathering, de-winging during the meal are all unforgivable sins that can be punished through excommunication.

The only consumables other than chicken wings welcome at wing night are blue cheese dressing (ranch dressing for the weaker and cheaper amongst us), celery stalks, carrot sticks and beer - lots and lots of beer.

The wing of choice is Buffalo. A Buffalo wing is an unbreaded chicken wing section (flat or drumette) that is generally deep-fried then coated in a sauce consisting of a vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and melted butter, before serving. The texture of a perfect wing is crispy on the outside, soft and well-cooked on the inside. The secret is all in the sauce. It should come with plenty of heat and a plethora of rich and surprising flavours. The sauce distinguishes the successful wing from the rest.

You will also need the beer - lots of ice cold beer. Preferably, a lighter beer that can keep up with the cooling demands of patrons.


Every wing night bolsters and perpetuates in us an adoration for this land and its people. Canada and Canadians took us in and made us a part of them when they invited us for wing night. As a result, we are now Canadian. Now we can welcome you too to come with us for an experience of a lifetime.

Be prepared. You are going to cry and gasp for air at your first wing night. There is nothing you can do about it. It is a shock to any sane person's system to consume food that is blazingly hot and in such large quantities. As you settle in, the hurt will become familiar, and you will cherish the cooler soothing moments of the beer. In time you will come to look forward to the pain until it eventually turns bizarrely pleasurable. Then you realize that you are either crazy or adequately drunk. The morning after will tell. Come to think of it, wing night has a lot in common with the ordinary flow of life!

The only advice we can give is that you keep a big jar of Vaseline handy and the softest toilet paper you can buy. One can never have enough toilet paper.

We are taking the Two Cowboys Wing Night show on the road this Summer, to discover how this ritual event plays out across our towns in Western Canada, and maybe even the world. We are inviting you along for the journey and hope to meet you at your favourite spot for your beloved wings with friends.

Hendrik van Wyk
Hot Cowboy

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