We are all trying to find meaning in our lives. It rests at the core of the human experience, right alongside finding your non-canine soul-mate and seeing the DVD screensaver icon bounce perfectly into the corner of the TV screen. But like most things that matter, the path is neither clear nor consistent. Some may find fulfillment in simple earthly pleasures such as figuring out what kohlrabi even is and immersing oneself in Disney Pixar conspiracy theories. Others (cough: me) find their life’s purpose in stress-eating fried foods like the world is ending and ranting about politics on the internet until every single person I love has become physically exhausted by my presence. To each her own.
One thing I hope we can all agree on, however, is the power of one voice (and one sandwich) to guide us through this change towards a better tomorrow. We want a voice/sandwich that says, “Yes we can; and also please put me in your mouth.” That proclaims, “Together we can create a world that welcomes everyone, and also I can’t promise that your initial reaction to me won’t be both embarrassing and involuntary.” That shouts, “Hope!” and, “Pickles!”
Well, that voice and that power are within all of us, and that sandwich can be also — for a nominal fee. I’m referring to the Fried Chicken Sandwich atParson’s Chicken & Fish, located at 2952 W. Armitage Avenue. For only $11, you too can once again be filled with unabashed optimism for the future. Within minutes of walking out the door, I found myself mentally drafting an ambitious five-year plan, taking special care to factor in the needs of my food baby, Elsa.
The first time I tried this sandwich was your average day: woke up at 11 a.m., forgot to participate in any sort of self care until 3, validated my existence by going grocery shopping, and then proceeded to spend additional money on food that I didn’t cook. Pretty typical. Likewise, this fateful evening out started as they all do — zealously, with a round of drinks and a hearty appetizer that had the exciting potential to ruin our appetites.
In this case, that appetizer was chili cheese fries — a choice that immediately caused every gland in my body to panic and simultaneously secrete enough stomach acid to gnaw through the chassis of a Ford F150. I preemptively felt heartburn in places I’m almost positive have nothing to do with my digestive tract. But regardless of the desperate message my autonomic nervous system was trying to deliver to my idiot brain, the fries were worth the pain. I think we made our satisfaction clear to the waiter when he offered to take away our not-yet-finished plate and was met with a pair of stony glares one might only find appropriate when directed towards the daily national news or your Monday morning email inbox.
Before I was able to celebrate/regret my appetizer decision, my dining date and I received our matching fried chicken sandwiches (twinsies!). To get the full picture of the caliber of the experience we’re discussing here, I’ll throw out a few buzzwords:
Flaky. Crunchy. Tangy. Smooth. Pickles. Spicy. Cheese. Metamorphosis. Symphony. Moonlit veranda. Appalachian sunrise. A really comfortable chair.
Needless to say, this sandwich caused me to find myself not only spiritually, but ideologically, aesthetically, and celestially as well; and if you haven’t yet found yourself celestially, you don’t know what you’re missing. (It’s an instantaneous encyclopedic knowledge of constellations, but only the ones that look like animals.)
I know what you’re thinking. I’m placing too much existential importance on a piece of meat crammed between two pieces of bread. To that I say — and please don’t take this the wrong way — “AWAY WITH YE, NAYSAYERS! HISSSSS!” There’s so much more to this sandwich than just meat and bread. There’s coleslaw in there too. And might I point out that there is only one letter separating the word “fried” and “friend.” If you don’t think that’s the sign of something happening that’s larger than all of us, then I think our time here is done.
Price: Decent, seeing as you get a lot of food for your money and a lot of unbridled happiness for your food. We both left spending about $28 each, including tip.
Location: Cheap via Uber from my apartment, but simultaneously expensive considering Uber’s complicity in the degradation of human lives. Next time I’m using Lyft instead. Or just, like, any other form of transportation.
Flavor: *one long, exaggerated, contented sigh*
Overall experience: I have been delivered over the precipice of my own personal awakening and shall approach every dawn with a renewed zeal for life. Dog bless.
Originally published in F Newsmagazine, February 9, 2017