Fair or No Fair with Indulgent Aunt M (at the Alameda County Fair)

Photo courtesy of alamedacountyfair.com

There are certain annual events that I always intend to attend, in the abstract; but in the more-or-less-figurative world in which I live, I don’t actually get around to them. The idea exists in the corner of my brain, like a little itch I can’t scratch, until the event goes away and I tuck the idea away until next year. Just such an event is the Alameda County Fair. I cherished an unreasonably rosy memory of a singularly bucolic and enjoyable sojourn to the Los Angeles County Fair, rendered almost antique in retrospect by the fact that the fairgrounds are dotted with permanent food stands with vintage neon signs so choice that they dictate the contents sold therein in perpetuity: I remembered stellar fish and chips and (could it be?) a juicy grilled lamb sandwich consumed mere moments after viewing plump white sheep with big blue ribbons attached to their collars.

This visit grew rosier the further away I got from it. My friend Lisa makes near-annual pilgrimages to that fair, reporting on the constant evolution of deep-fried items served on a stick: first Snickers, then Twinkies, then pickles, then God knows what. A hasty Internet search for “deep-fried food on a stick” instantly yields a top story: deep-fried Coca-Cola, which turns out to be fried Coca-Cola-flavored batter, drizzled with Coca-Cola fountain syrup, topped with whipped cream, cinnamon sugar, and a cherry. This chef d’oeuvre won the creativity honor at last year’s Texas State Fair, not, I hasten to point out, the tasty prize, which went to deep-fried pralines. On a stick.

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