Food Glorious, Disgusting, Absurdly Over-Priced Food
Last time I talked about my family going to the Gotta Be NC Fair and how wonderfully I dealt with 11 year old triplets, inclement weather, ride wristbands and every parent's gift from Gd-- bumper cars. But there was one aspect of fair life that I didn't mention: The fair food. (Feel free to take that as a pun.) Last time, I omitted it intentionally. I thought that the fair food required and deserved a blog post all its own. And this is it.
As I explained in the first post, "Gotta Be NC" held every May, is a smaller version of the state fair held every October. This way, we North Carolina residents get two opportunities a year to pay homage to local farmers and eat our body weight in saturated fat. I've always considered that having the two events in spring and fall respectively, serves a dual purpose: The weather is most likely going to be pleasant, and our digestive systems will have several months between events to successfully complete the five stages of gastronomic grief:
Denial: "I didn't eat that much fair food. Last year I ate way more. And that deep-fried butter should be no big deal. Last year I had three of those."
Anger: "I can't believe I wasted an hour and a half at Planet Fitness that morning. If I was going to eat all that fair food, why oh why did I go to the gym when I could have been sleeping? Oh right. They had bagels.
Bargaining: (Day of the Fair) "Please don't let me get sick! Please don't let me get sick! I swear if I don't get sick, I won't eat another thing all day." (Day after the Fair) "Please let this pain be an 'antacid' blockage situation and not a 'surgical' blockage situation. If this ache can be cured by TUMS, I swear I'll only eat organic, unprocessed, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleontological vegan food from now on."
Depression: "Oh... the Thanksgiving feast in an egg roll... I can't believe I missed that booth. I saw it advertised on TV the week before and stupid me I didn't even notice it at the fair... And those chocolate covered knee caps. I forgot about those too! I mean, I don't think they're actual knee caps but I never got the chance to find out!"
Acceptance: "Well, the next fair is coming up in just a couple of months. I'll get them then."
50% of all fair attendees never go on any rides or play any games. We just eat our way from one end of the festival to the other. Basically, the rides, the games, the blue ribbons, the bands, and all of the other attractions are just something to occupy yourself with in those brief bouts of eating downtime between: "I'm so full I never want to see fair food again" and "Hey, that smells good, let me go ask her where she got it."
Many of us fair-goers convince ourselves that we will "walk it off" during the sprawling event, failing to realize that it's difficult to do so when you're strolling with a turkey leg in one hand and a deep-fried Snicker's bar on a stick in the other. (If you never thought you could actually feel your BMI rising, you've never been to a state fair.)
And gluttony doesn't come cheaply. I always prefer to get my fair food from a local business or charity that has a stand there. This way I know that it's likely to be decent food at a somewhat reasonable price because they either want your business again next week at their restaurant or the money's going to a good cause.
However, my son always wants chicken tenders and fries from one of those: "Have a good day. Scam you next fair!" tents.
I always think to myself as I order: "$7 for frozen chicken and potatoes they throw into a deep fryer. I'm surprised they call them 'french fries' instead of 'pommes frites.'" This year was different. This year the same meal was $10. I knew what was going on. It was lousy weather all weekend and attendance was way down... While the executive chef stood over the fryer tending to our order, I said to the person at the front of the tent, as politely as I could... and as quietly as I could so as not to upset the person actually touching and within spitting distance of my son's fair food:
"How come the price went up from $7 to $10 this year? The people who showed up have to make up for the people who didn't?" I knew I wasn't going to get any satisfactory answer, especially since it was more or less a rhetorical question. But the young lady was friendly and said she didn't know because the owner usually kept the prices the same at a particular fair from one year to the next. When we got our fair food and left, my son looked at me:
"Why did you have to say that?"
I said: "Because I'm me. And no matter where I live, I'm a New Yorker. New Yorkers don't mind paying more for something that's worth it, but there's nothing a New Yorker hates more than feeling like they're getting ripped off." He still stared at me. So I continued: "And... like I said...I'm me."
I really appreciate you stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my buffoonery. If you'd like to check out Part 1 of this post (which is largely about mean punishing my kids with bumper cars for a year of misdeeds): "Gotta Be NC: The Triplets, My Husband, and Me" immediately follows this post.. Also, please consider subscribing to my not-so-frequent-you'll-want-to shoot-your-inbox newsletter or check out one of my Laughing IS Conceivable books, all on the home page... or you can do both. I won't fight you on it.