And they were fried.

Fried!

I expected, I don’t know, big, plump anchovies, like the ones packed in olive oil or salt. I expected­ them to be stirred in with vegetables or tossed with noodles.

I didn’t expect them to come as a mound of thin, little, critter-­looking things.

I tried one. It was crispy and slightly chewy and exuded that characteristic dark-and-tangy anchovy flavor. It was like the best potato chip in the world met the best anchovy in the world. And then it hit me: Of course it’s great. Everything fried is great. Fried chicken. Fried fish-and-chips. Fried Mars bars. Why not fried anchovies?

And salted and peppered, no less.

I ate them like popcorn, like French fries, like jelly beans. I couldn’t stop.

About halfway through, I started to get full. But I kept eating. About three-quarters of the way through, I tried to push the plate away. I couldn’t.

Finally, I polished off the entire plate, and I thought, Wow. I was by myself. At lunch. On my birthday.