Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fair Weather Foodie

The weather played autumn for a couple of days here recently, and although the temperature is now back up to a healthy late-summer 70-or-so, the chilly weekend reminded me of how much I love fall.  And here, one of the best things about it  is the State Fair.  The many attractions at this annual event include a plethora of livestock in varying degrees of cuteness (e.g. baby goats = 10, cows = 1), several species of unnaturally large vegetables, ferris wheels, carnival games, mythological creatures (snake woman, etc.), and a whole slew of pick-you-up-and-spin-you-until-you-lose-your-turkey-leg rides.

But the best part is the food.
Every year, I must gain at least ten pounds from all the marathon eating I do while the fair is in town.  One of the reasons I went five times last year was because you cannot physically cram all of the necessary delicacies into your body in one night.  It isn't possible. Trust me.

Here I've compiled a list of all the foods I have to eat in order to call my State Fair experience complete, aforementioned rides, livestock, and mythological creatures notwithstanding.

The Krispy Kreme Donut Burger
Weighing it at an incredible 1500 calories, this glazed-and-greasy monstrosity is not for the faint of heart, although it will probably give you heart trouble.

Turkey Leg
These are impossible to miss, perhaps because a thick cloud of smoke surrounds every stand that sells them.  Or maybe it's the miles of people lined up waiting for a chance to bury their faces in poultry.  Either way, you can smell them from anywhere.  Just follow your nose!

Pig Lickers
Chocolate covered bacon.  'Nuff said.

Deep-Fried _______
Insert sugary goodness here.  It doesn't matter what it is.  From Twinkies to Snickers to Coca-Cola, find whatever they've figured out how to batter and fry this year and try it.  I avoid the deep-fried butter, though.  That crosses a line.

Strawberry Shortcake
Iconic not for the way it tastes, but for the giant inflatable strawberry crowning the stand.  You can also buy pig lickers here.  Don't ask.

Ribeye Steak Sandwich
This is usually the first thing my family eats, due to its convenient location near the entrance.  Best enjoyed with Texas Pete hot sauce.

Ice Cream
From the local university.  They milk the cows themselves, but the ice cream is made in a lab.  Still, by the time you've waited in line for the stuff, the flavors you have to pick from are "What aren't you out of?"  Mmmm, my favorite.

Corn on the Cob
The idea with this one is to cover it with so much unidentified seasoning that the food itself becomes unrecognizable as a vegetable.  If watching them pull it out of the boiling vat of butter didn't do that already.

Polish and/or Italian Sausage
If you know what the difference is, congratulations! No one cares.  They're both good, but you have to eat them before sausage juice dissolves the bun.  One way to find these stands is to follow the trail of dropped onions and peppers that slide off the thing no matter how hard you try to hold onto them.

Frozen Cheesecake
It's literally a brick of cheesecake on a stick.  Preferably covered in chocolate.  How can you say 'no' to that?

Cotton Candy
The way we do it, this one must be purchased on the last day, and enjoyed while watching the fireworks.  So you can walk around all week and stare at the many varieties of pink and blue (and sometimes yellow) clouds of sugar, but I learned at a young age that it simply wasn't going to happen until the end of the fair.

Al's French Fries
Similar to the corn on the cob, the object here is to bury the actual fries underneath several geological layers of ketchup and vinegar.  Then play, Try to Find a Way to Grab a Fry Without Getting Ketchup or Vinegar on Your Fingers.  That's a long title; I'll work on it.

If at the end of the week your arteries are the size of Polish (Italian?) sausages and your heart is begging for mercy, you've done it correctly.  Huzzah! Or as we like to say, 'Gitterdone!'

Friday, September 9, 2011

Magic Shoe Laces

As a general rule, I don't have self-esteem issues.  For instance, I think I'm a reasonably attractive person.  Still, I think my best features are definitely my shoelaces.  They're magical.  They're like the traveling pants except the only traveling they do is when they're on my feet.

The first time I experienced the magic was the day after I purchased them.  I was sitting in LaGuardia airport with my sister, waiting to catch a flight back home after an awesome weekend with our aunt and uncle in New York City.  (I'd also like to mention that I rocked some striped knee socks the day before and earned the nickname "Pippi," which I took as a compliment.  My uncle had, just a few moments before, been harassing me about my style choices when somebody walked by and said, "Hey I'm feelin' yo socks."  I won that argument.  Alas, the socks, while they are awesome, are not magical.  But I digress.)

Anyway, my sister and I are sitting in the food court in the terminal, when this British guy with longish hair and a guitar swung casually over his shoulder waltzes over to me and says, "Excuse me, could I just have a look at your laces?"  I think I said "yes," but it might have been "Yurrr."  I also managed to form enough sentences to tell him I'd gotten them at the Converse store on Broadway.

I've worn them several times since then, with no spectacular results (because I don't count getting stares as I walk by, though I do enjoy them).  I'd begun to doubt the magic of the shoelaces.  But today it happened again.  This guy wasn't British, unfortunately, but he was way cuter than the British guy and he was carrying a skateboard, which is like +3 cool points at least.  I was masterfully multitasking: eating lunch, studying calculus, and listening to my iPod all at the same time.  This guy walks straight up to me anyway and sits down at the table.  My table.

"Hello, what's your name?"

I pull my earbuds out of my head.  "Raz."

"I'm Tyler."


"Are you single?"

I pause to pick my jaw up off the table.  "Uh, what?  I... yes?"


"No I am.  I just... why?"

"I was just wondering if you wanted to do lunch or something...I came over here because I wanted to tell you how much I love your shoelaces.  I have a thing for cool shoelaces."

"Oh, thanks!  Actually, I'm waiting for someone.  You seem like a really nice guy, though."

It occurred to me that he might have been a total creep.  But if he liked my shoelaces enough to ask me out, how bad could he be?  At any rate, I respected his straightforwardness.  I wanted to return the compliment;  he had really gorgeous blue eyes.  But responding to "I like your shoelaces" with "I like your eyes" seemed like crossing a line.

He finished with, "Maybe I'll see you around, Raz."  Maybe you will, Tyler.  And maybe I'll be wearing magic shoelaces.