When I made friends in the Chicago area, they would occasionally rave about Jim’s and promise to take me there. Apparently it’s a popular late night hole-in-the-wall hot dog/burger stand for college kids in Chicago. People talk about it as one of those guilty pleasures associated with strong nostalgia of the youthful frigid nights when they would gather people to go devour greasy sandwiches and hot dogs and nibble on the spicy chili peppers.
Finally after 2.5 years, I had my first Jim’s experience. I dared not try to match everyone’s deep desire for it, but I like to think I started my own collection of memories at Jim’s last night.
As with most adventures, the food requires proper spontaneity of the setting. In our church small group chatroom, somebody mentioned that he got Jim’s 3 times this week. Then all these Chicago people unleashed their longings for Jim’s. Reading these messages, I knew I had to jump in strategically in order to finally get myself to Jim’s. Despite everyone’s love for this place, it’s not everyday that people talk about Jim’s. And when people talk about their cravings, often the conversation dies without a solid conclusion to their cravings because human beings are prone to the comfort of their daily routines and there is the barrier of coordinating people’s schedules to make a trip to a place like Jim’s. So at the peak of everyone’s excitement, I asked them to take me to Jim’s, accentuating the sad story of the past 2.5 years of hearing so much about Jim’s yet never having experienced it firsthand.
One immediate “omg” was unleashed and with the momentum of the conversation, a critical number of people expressed their availability and willingness to go to Jim’s next Wednesday after our Bible study. My strategy worked!
What I hadn’t expected was when somebody said “let’s go now.” Unsurprisingly most people couldn’t go on such short notice, but this person seemed super on fire for Jim’s, citing the slightly chilly drizzing weather as the perfect atmosphere for a Jim’s run. For a moment, I hesitated because I, too, am human and didn’t want to get out of the house but the Tookish part of me took over and I said let’s do it!!! In the end three of us ended up at Jim’s.
The excitement was very apparent during our trip as my friends wanted to pay for our food, telling me about the necessity of going halfsies on the polish hotdog and the fish sandwich and nibbling on the hot chili peppers while eating the fries and drinking grape soda.
The Mexican guy who gave us our order asked us, “ggochu manni?” which is Korean for “lots of peppers?” Apparently all the drunk Korean college students teach him Korean.
As for the food, it was indeed very good. The polish with the grilled onions was really good, and my favorite was the fish sandwich with the greasy but crunchy fish patty stuck between the buns and cheese and sauce and onions and happiness. The fries were warm, crisp, and with the perfect amount of moisture. The hot pepper was a nice contrast, and the carbonated sting of the grape soda intensified the spiciness. We stood at the stand (no chairs in this place), finding shelter from the rain and eating our food and making memories.