As a young and impecunious grad student, I subsisted largely on a dish I called crap potatoes, which I had invented my very own self. It consisted of cubed potatoes fried up along with chopped onions and topped with cheese or bacon or whatever crap I happened to have in my refrigerator—hence the name.

It was the ideal dish for a grad student since it was cheap and the preparation was time-consuming, ideal for procrastination, although I would tell myself that the precise chopping of potatoes and onions and the supervision of the frying so that they browned to the ideal degree of crispness without burning was the sort of boring task that put one into a meditative state, ideal for working out the subtleties of arguments about the subtleties of Henry James or plot developments in the novel I was supposed to be writing.

Only after I graduated and a friend passed along a copy of Nora Ephron’s Heartburn did I realize that others had discovered my beloved crap potatoes before I had and called them “hash.” I hate Nora Ephron.

Nonetheless, when I learned that there was a new cafe on the Wicker Park-Humboldt border so devoted to hash that it called itself Hash, I signed up to review it.