Friday, October 12, 2012

Fair Food

Last weekend I attended the 161st annual Carhartt convention in Maine or as some folks lovingly call it, the Fryeburg Fair. Since I was a little kid I went to fairs every year and to this day Fryeburg is still my favorite. They have the most animals by far, probably enough to sink Noah's Ark. They have tons of food vendors and not just your typical New England fair favorites of Italian sausage, fried dough, French fries and cotton candy. 

At the Fryeburg Fair you can get everything from a deep fried Oreo to Thai food and darned near everything in between. I even saw a vegetable stand and talked to the woman who owned it whom I had at first dubbed “the loneliest person at the fair,” but after talking with her and upon further inspection I saw that the veggies were battered, deep fried and covered with a mayo based sauce…way to keep it healthy veggie lady!

Growing up I remember going to the Cheshire Fair in Swanzey, NH every late summer as a child. The best part was after we were done setting up our vegetables for judging on the evening before the fair started, we were allowed to ride all the rides for free. In hindsight I’m not sure going on a thirty year old tilt-a-whirl for its “shake-down” cruise was such a good idea. 

But as children are immune to such logic, and are in their own minds immortal… I caught a lucky break and fate smiled upon mine and my brothers nights of fun. I remembered going into the main building which in winter was the ice arena my brother and I played hockey in and being in awe that this would ever be a rink again, especially with all that dirt, tractors, horses and of course horse manure covering the skating surface.

I always walked through the barns to look at the animals. I took the obligatory look at the cows and horses, but as I saw them at the farm all the time I was looking for the really exotic animals like turkeys, miniature lop eared rabbits and Lucifer eyed goats. After walking around for several hours through countless piles of manure smelling of animals, hay and sawdust, it was time to walk the midway and listen to the barkers cry. 

Since I had ridden every ride I wanted for as much as I wanted to the night before the fair opened, I was more interested in the food. Walking past the pretzel, cotton candy and candied apple stands (aside from six year olds, who’s eating candied apples and why?) I made my way towards the one constant at the fair that always made it seem complete…the Italian sausage stand.

This was one of those foods my father, my brother and I would always get at the fair and to this day it isn't a fair unless I have one. Mom wasn't much of a fair person and stayed home, as this left Dad to his own devices from a culinary standpoint we always went straight for the holy grail of fair food before joining my Uncle Gene in the stands to watch the tractor pulls. The traditional sausage stand had little diner seats along the sides and big circular ropes of Italian sausage along with onions and peppers sizzling away on the flat top. I don’t recall the first time I had one but I know it had to be at the fair as we never ate it at home, and to this day every time I bite into one it reminds me of my father and the fair. 

The most exotic ethnic food we ate at home was probably kielbasa sautéed with sauerkraut, which everyone but me smothered in yellow mustard. As I wanted to be authentic (to which country Poland or Germany I had no idea) I ate mine au natural.  Then there was “Spanish rice” which had nearly zero Spanish ingredients at all unless you count tomato as Spanish. Basically it was rice with ground beef and mom’s homemade meat sauce…Olé!

Of course I would eat the obligatory fried dough which is the north’s answer to the funnel cake. French fries smothered in malt vinegar, which being Acadian French was a given as we would eat a trailer hitch if it had vinegar on it, and a kiddies pool worth of lemonade. Today walking around I’m seeing lemonade that costs as much as my first apartment. Fried Kool-Aid which in as much as I could figure was Kool-Aid dumped into “clam fry” then deep fried, and eaten by people with a horrid contempt for their health and self esteem. 

I did see some good looking food in the way of wood fired pizza which had a nice “up skirt shot” and was crispy and bubbling, and Thai food which was probably as Thai as my childhood Spanish rice was Spanish but it looked hot and tasty regardless. That being said with only one day at the Fryeburg fair, barely enough room for a quart of Mylanta and a couple food items, I’ll take the Italian sausage with onions and peppers…it always makes the fair a fair. 

No...not from this mess! Sadly it's the only flat top pic I got...*sigh*

Ate BBQ sample at Fair in Northern NH earlier in the season...what was I thinking?!

UGH! Can't I go anywhere without politics?!

WOW...FREE DIPPING SAUCE?! Must be my lucky day!

As I told my friends relax I split this one... with myself! Hellz yeah I ate it all... I ain't scared... but my aorta probably is.

Same as above... who the hell wants boneless fried chicken?!

MMMM...Fried Kool-Aid! But uh yeah, I'd definitely eat the fried pickle chipe...wonder if they came with free sauce?

I saw the "up skir" shot on the pizza but in Northern Maine where guns are carried and cops are few, I didn't feel right asking the guy to take a picture of the underside of his pizza...go figure.


  1. OK,2 pix popped out at me here.First,that nice raw italian sausage snuggled up against the cooked sausage,and the other one was the chick in the blue sweatshirt,guzzlin a can of diet Pepsi,with another one tucked under her arm,while standin in front of Toms Jumbo Donut stand....hahahaha

    1. Yeah the first one the flat top was so crowded and messy it almost had no metal showing! On the second, yeah, well....a girl's gotta hydrate!

  2. That is...some respectable meat ya got there, Pav.

    1. It ain't much but it's all the good lord gave me! ;-) Hey Shelby... thanks for noticing! hehe Thanks for reading!