The LA County Fair
Beginning in the early 1800s, the first agricultural fairs gave rural families an opportunity to see firsthand the latest agricultural techniques, equipment, crops, and livestock. Over the course of the nineteenth century, fairs also incorporated a wide range of educational, recreational, competitive, and social activities into their programs. Within a few short generations, county and state fairs became a quintessential American tradition.
We all look at fairs with different interests. For me, if it’s deep-fried, on-a-stick, battered, breaded or dipped in chocolate you must be eating at the LA County Fair. A few of the new items this year included macaroni and cheese on a stick, deep-fried Oreos and s’mores on a stick.
This year we had to battle 108º temperatures to take part in the annual food fair experience. With more than 300 choices, I have to admit that I had to unbutton the button on my waistband just to drive home comfortably.
My first stop is always the giant cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Oops they weren’t there this year. I passed on the giant breakfast burrito, morning sandwich and the mini doughnuts in favor of Chicken Charlie’s fresh-baked waffles and fried chicken—a new family tradition that introduced a little protein into what would become a hard-packing carb day. No sooner had we finished licking the syrup from our chins than we were ready to move onto The Indian Fry Bread with all kinds of gorpy toppings. Then there were the funnel cakes with ice cream on top, and the endless concessions making fresh-fried Churros. Churros are long, extruded Mexican doughnuts that can be dipped in chocolate or, when it’s so blazing hot, smothered in cinnamon sugar.
When you’re at the Fair, meals and snacks all start to morph together. It’s kind of like being a chain smoker—you barely finish eating one treat before picking up the next stack of goodies with the napkin left over from the last one. I must admit that the fair food even replaced my death grip on my ever-present Blackberry.
We next found ourselves on Birch Avenue at Mom’s Giant Cookies and Gingerbread Treats—the home of Gingerbread-Man-on-a-Stick. The Ginger Bread is made with a little touch of cocoa… so yummy! And Mom’s Giant Cookies next door—always my favorites as a kid—are so packed with chocolate chunks that the dough barely holds them together.
Want BBQ? The secret to Big Bubba’s Bad to the Bone BBQ is a touch of chocolate they put into their BBQ sauce. Likewise, King Taco adds a little chocolate to their Chile Colorado. The chocolate adds depth of flavor and additional richness to both. There was even a little healthier food, such as yogurt, frozen yogurt smoothies, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and salads, too!
Unless you were making deep fried Reese’s Whips or Peanut Brittle, it was tough day to be in the candy business let alone to make chocolate. The fudge was melting, the chocolate-dipped apples were withering—as were we—and if you grabbed an ice cream cone, you had to eat it faster than the quarter horses were running a furlough at the race track next door.
While I look at the LA County Fair through food-colored glasses, it is still a place where people proudly display animals, produce prize-winning baked goods, and of course, there’s plenty of entertainment, games and scary midway rides. Even though the weather was stifling, we still had a great time and enjoyed the new uses of chocolate that we discovered.