Picnic Supplies: Promenade Red Apple Market, 2310 S. Jackson St. Fried catfish + hush puppies + mac and cheese + collard greens = $17.14 (but I kind of went overboard).
Walking It Out: I’d been hearing raves about the fried catfish at the Red Apple deli since I moved to the Central District last November, but I usually spend my self-allocated trans fat budget on spicy strips from Ezell’s. Still, variety is the spice of life, and so I found myself with a group of Red Apple regulars clustered around the hot deli counter, all of us waiting sort of desperately for a new batch of catfish to emerge from the deep fryer. As we stood there, I solicited recommendations for sides, and ended up walking away with a half-pound each of hush puppies and mac and cheese, plus a pound of collards for vitamins. (Word of warning: Make it an early dinner. The deli only produces fresh catfish until 5:30 p.m. When it’s gone, it’s gone.)
I thought the famous catfish fillets, dredged in cornmeal, salt, and pepper and fried until crispy, were merely fine—but then again, I’m not a huge catfish fan, and my dining companion had nothing but enthusiasm for them. The hush puppies, however, were a revelation. I’d always thought of hush puppies as bland pockets of fried dough, but these were super-flavorful, peppery and salty and flecked with parsley, somehow dense and light at the same time. They even give spicy strips a run for their money.
Fried food always tastes better outdoors -- something about the fresh air, or maybe the potential (however unlikely) that you’ll work off the zillion calories in a game of Frisbee, flag football, or similar. Judkins Park has plenty of opportunity for worthwhile pursuits in the form of soccer fields and basketball courts; it also has a few shady benches, a million-dollar view of Mount Rainier, and lots of nice grass for napping. For me, it’s got the added bonus of jutting up against Washington Middle School, my alma mater and a welcome reminder that if I survived three years as an awkward, slightly overweight teenage girl, I can survive anything else life throws my way.