My fingers are covered in maple syrup. My pants, powdered sugar. My date, similarly coated, looking on in what I can only hope is adoration as I put a chunk of a deteriorating, syrup-jacketed waffle in my mouth, as if it will disappear if I don’t, as if I’ve lost if I can’t. “It’s so good!” I shout. It’s loud on the patio of Park on Fremont. Or maybe it’s actually quiet and I’m just trying to shout over the volume of the flavor, amplified by its accompanying beer.
This version is daintier than traditional chicken and waffles. The chicken is leaner, breaded thinner. The saucer-sized waffle, dieted down to two thin squares, fried and sweet, just enough to sandwich the chicken. Not enough to fill up, not enough to forfeit the food’s history, a perfect amount to soak up booze or line the stomach for more. And eating it takes care. This is a 10-finger food, fingers pressed tightly together into hand shovels, an easy but firm grip, herding the pieces as they make a break for it after each bite. As the sandwich gets looser, pieces mismatched and ragged, it becomes a fight. Rotating fists of chicken and dough brawl with my tongue. And I’m losing, joyfully.