Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Penguin--Charlotte, NC

It's been quite a while since I've posted. The good news is that I've got a few reviews backed up, and I'm also no longer a graduate student. *MFA Hey!*

Anyhow, here's a review from 1/10:

I got into Charlotte at around 3:30 on Saturday, and Laura picked me up at the airport. I had agreed to take her to dinner for the favor, so we went to the Penguin, which isn’t far from the South Park/Queens University area, my locale when I’m in the (other) Queen City.

We got a booth and sat down to a couple Cokes and ordered some fried pickles. Over them, we talked writing and graduation. The conversation was pleasant and it helped me to slide back into the week that is a Queens residency. Mostly, though, it was just good to see Laura, as she’s one of my favorite people in the world. She’s a broad, broad person; wider than anyone can know. Her experience in life is at once common and uncommon; she’s both complex and simple. And she makes me happy and comfortable. Like fried dill pickles.

That’s what I wanted to get to—the pickles. In my previous experiences with deep-fried dill pickles, they were good and comforting spears, easily identifiable in their shape alone, the surprise inside the batter not a surprise at all, but good all the same. The Penguin, though, is a different experience altogether. The majority of that, to be completely honest, is more in the food and the atmosphere.

It’s like a neo-1950’s greaser diner. That’s what I presume the intent to be anyway. That guy from Social Distortion would blend in with the staff, who are likely hundreds of times more pleasant than he is. But it makes you feel tough to have that burger in your hand (they’re all named after types of automobile engines, by the way) and to take a bite from it, like you’re saying something akin to “I’m going to eat the fuck out of this hamburger, bitch.”

The pickles, though, are sort of an anomaly here, because deep-fried dill chips (that’s how they’re aesthetically different from the other ones I’ve had) aren’t necessarily food for a tough guy. A fried boot, maybe, but not a pickle, which, if it were a spear, would perhaps have a strange Freudian air to it. No matter. The point that I want to get to (and, for some reason, I’m making it harder on myself than I should be) is that these dill chips are the real motherfucking deal. Spend five bucks, bring a dear friend (who, hopefully knows some of the rockin’ staffers), and you’ll be in for something you’ll remember—kind conversation, their comfort and warmth and words, and the slight vinegar sting of a pickle slice rising out of the flaky sweet of the batter. Nothing else like it, or as good.

4 comments:

jessica said...

One Q about the Penguin, from someone currently wearing a Penguin T-shirt and wishing I had a paper-plate right now of their fried pickles. The sodium bomb. But -where's the drive-in part of the penguin? Boarded up?

Everything Reviews said...

Hmm... I think that it might simply be part of the name... or perhaps it's on the other side of the building...

larkyn said...

Its named Penguin Drive-IN, not the Drive THROUGH. Think about it....

Lee said...

Oh my hell! I just got back from Charlotte and had the deep-fried pickles...I'm back in Harrisburg PA and NOW I wish I would have bought the damn shirt...
Absolutely the best deep-fried pickles