As a cheap and hungry student, I used to experience lip-numbing stoner munchies while busily reading and expounding horseshit on Ulysses. Carrying Joyce's weighty tome, I staggered around the U-District until I discovered the Continental Store--not to be confused with the Continental Restaurant and Pastry Shop, that fine establishment serving Greek and Mediterranean specialties on the Ave.

I returned to the Store recently, and after examining fascinating canned goods from Deutschland, decided to place myself at the mercy of the proprietress. When asked which sandwich she recommended, the German lady behind the counter replied sternly, "All of my sandwiches are very good."

I sighed and pointed at some peppered ham. Of this she approved, and moved about, slicing meat and cheese and giant, homemade bread 'n' butter pickles. A large, round brown bun held a strapping German-lad- sized portion of tasty ham and all its accoutrements, bound with mayo and sweet mustard: a miracle of simplicity.

Prices have inched up microscopically since my college days ($2.75 turkey or roast beef, $3.25 peppered ham), and the store has changed hands, but the new owner is reputed to be a very close friend of the old owner--certainly their sandwiches' origins lie in corresponding philosophies. Our new Lady of the Sandwiches sticks to the succinct in conversation, yet exudes friendliness in sandwiches, and finally warmed up to me when I ordered both kinds of potato salad. "It's hard to choose," she acknowledged, "both are excellent. One has the vinegar and the bacon... one has the hard-boiled eggs and pickles."

After resisting the multitude of Belgium chocolates displayed next to the weisswurst sausages and mysterious German deli meats, I fell prey to the pastry counter up front, where an older gentleman stoically rang me up as I ordered two hard cinnamon-laced pretzels and a mountainous coconut macaroon ($1), all the while fingering a beguiling box of Dutch chocolate-toast sprinkles. I scarfed my purchases down in an authentic Germanic setting, at one of the two outdoor tables in the bracing winds of Roosevelt Way.

Continental Store

5014 Roosevelt Way NE (U-District), 523-0606. Mon-Fri 10 am-6 pm; Sat 9 am-5 pm.