Show me someone who doesn't like deep-fried food, and I'll show you a liar. It may be (as the forces of evil are now apparently making Cookie Monster say about cookies) "a sometimes food," but when sometimes is now, well, yay. Life should glisten more; life should be more golden.
That being said, it is usually wise to resist eating deep-fried goods at gas station mini-marts. However, I was at a gas station mini-mart in North Bend one morning recently, getting a cup of bad-but-necessary coffee, and I saw a man in the back lifting some round, golden items up from the depths of the deep-fryer. I lurked.
"What're those?" I asked hopefully.
"Mushrooms," he said. "Want to try one?"
Hell, yes, I did, time of day, location, appropriateness of pairing with coffee be damned. I held it in a napkin in my hand while I waited in line, my hot little secret. Then, just before I got to the register, I ate it. It was, tragically, still ice cold at its heart—not a happy thing in a deep-fried food. It was, in a word, gross.
My stomach is ever optimistic, though, and it was on the lookout for something to supplant this memory when I happened to end up at the People's Pub. (My last visit to this Ballard institution was also related to disappointment elsewhere. I'd gone to Pies & Pints and had a beef pie that was dry—no one wants a dry pie—so I drove immediately to the reliable satisfactions of the People's Pub and ate again. The goulash soup ($5) that night—thick, paprika-colored, with chunks of beef and pieces of spätzle suspended in it—would've made an excellent pie filling. Instead it was in a ceramic dish with a lid with a tiny vent hole, suggesting the exciting possibility of it being so hot it might explode.) I saw something on the menu I'd inexplicably missed so far, and that thing was deep-fried pickles ($6). Deep. Fried. Pickles.
Every seat in the bar of the People's Pub was occupied by congenial types hoisting pints of German beer and eating, eating, and eating, so my pickles took a little while. Meanwhile I admired a flag (for a German soccer team, I guessed) depicting an extremely muscular rooster. He appeared to be glowering directly at me while feeling his immense bicep with a weird, feathered hand. My pickles were spears—for some reason I was expecting them to be whole—and they had that slightly rough batter coat that certain onion rings sport. The pickle spears were still crisp (but not cold!), and the aioli dip had large-grain mustard mixed in. A plate of these and a beer will erase any bad deep-fried food—or anything bad at all, really—from your mind, at least temporarily. ■
The People's Pub is at 5429 Ballard Ave NW, 783-6521. The People's Pub website, www.peoplespub.com, is amazingly comprehensive.