CA State Fair 2018: Fasting Fridays AKA U Can’t Touch This

Corn dogs and tacos and fudge, oh my!  Can’t forget the latest in deep-fried foods.  Point me to the roast turkey legs, kettle corn and chocolate-covered bacon.  It’s the annual CA State Fair; all bets are off as far as dining options are concerned.

Oh, wait.  I’m wrong.

It’s Friday.

So what?

It’s Friday, and I’m Catholic.

And?

It’s Friday, I’m Catholic…and I practice my sacrifice on Fridays by not eating meat, otherwise known as abstaining (yes, I know the title says “Fasting” not “Abstaining”; I like the alliteration so sue me).

As I mentally give myself a big kick for scheduling us to go to the fair on the one day of the week we don’t eat meat, we walk around as I investigate the non-meat options.  Okay, that’s not accurate, either.  I scheduled us to attend on a Friday knowing full well eating meat was likely not an option we were going to explore so, I figured, I’d look into what we could choose to eat and not feel we shortchanged our fair experience.

The last time we went to the fair, everything I spotted seemed to be meat, deep-fried or both.  I recall availing myself of a giant corn dog and being sadly disappointed.  I love corn dogs (a nice balance of the sweetness of the cornbread batter with the savory saltiness of the hot dog).  I was imagining that a giant corn dog could be one of those 12-inch hot dogs or something around that length dipped in batter.  What I ended up with was two regular-size hot dogs on the same stick but, when dipped in batter, appeared as one big hot dog.  Like Annie Wilkes in the book Misery, I felt this was a cheat.  I vowed I won’t get fooled again (Roger Daltrey singing away in my head).

A new fair offering that year was chocolate-covered bacon.  Intrigued, I was, but I wasn’t intrigued enough to want to spend the money to give it a shot.  I moved on.

This year, even though I gave myself the “okay” to eat meat that Friday (and have a different sacrifice for the day), I challenged myself to locate food options that, at the very least, were vegetarian (actually, I wasn’t looking for vegan).  I was pretty sure I could find at least one thing, but it really wasn’t difficult to locate the numerous non-meat options available.

ca-state-fair-food-cali-king-grill-072018 (2)Of course, the scent of the roasting meat was quite alluring.  Why go for an ear of grilled corn when a turkey leg worthy of King Henry VIII beckons right next to it?  Oh, yeah, my sacrifice (although I did tell myself it was okay to have meat…and wasn’t it some saint’s feast day, hmm…yeah…SURE!).  One of the nice things about going to the fair is that familiar stands could be found in the same place.  The last time we went to the fair and this time, we found the big barbecue stand in the same place.  Even with allowing myself a different sacrifice, I was going to have to pass on the humongous turkey legs.  Why?  Because they’re about a day’s worth of calories.  Delicious, they are.  Diet-friendly, they are not (unless you happen to be doing Atkins but does anybody do Atkins these days?).  Anyway, they’re a consideration for the end of the day (wrap it up and take it home IS an option – just ask!).  Looking back at the grilled corn-on-the-cob, I tell myself I want to see what else is out there before committing to the calories.  Yeah, I know – killjoy; when you’re diabetic, you really have to be extra careful about your eating habits.  Don’t give up, yet.  Even diabetics can make it work.

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Walking around, I spot a sign advertising giant corndogs (nope, not falling for that again).  OTOH, there’s a big picture also touting pepperoni pizza.  I figure, “Where there’s pepperoni, there’s got to be plain cheese!”  I approached the counterperson and inquired.  A-ha, there’s a catch.  You can get plain cheese pizza, but you have to buy two slices.  I didn’t ask why; I guess I should have.  I guess it’ll be a mystery until next year (if I remember to ask them about it).

So far, the Catholic-friendly options that are also diabetes-friendly are 0 for 2.  Grilled corn as a Catholic is good, but, sadly, counts as carbs for diabetics.  Same thing with the cheese pizza – carbs (cheese) on carbs (pizza crust).  Still, I am not defeated (and I’m meeting my original goal – finding Catholic-friendly Friday food options).

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Momentarily distracted by the call of the midway games, I spy a stand selling deep-fried Oreos, Snickers and the like (peach? – where’d that come from???).  What other goodies are in store?  In addition to the walk-around food you’d commonly find at fairs (cotton candy, caramel/candy apples, popcorn – all Catholic friendly), I spy a menu item of nachos.  The picture I see on the stand is reminiscent of the nachos I used to get from the Oceanside High School student store, and I remember those fondly (although I certainly wouldn’t have welcomed the chopped jalapenos).  So, my Catholic self is still humming along happily having found yet another option.  Diabetic self is going, “Nope, nope, nope, nope.”  Carbs (cheese), carbs (tortilla chips) and jalapenos (technically, a fruit, which counts as a carb for us diabetics, but jalapenos might get a pass).  Jumbo pickles are on the menu, though, as are “Curros” (typo I’m sure).  I do believe pickles do not count as carbs so, hooray, finally found one!

Moving along, I see a Mexican food stand selling fish tacos, another stand selling roasted corn (including a “corn pail” – cup full of the corn cut off the cob) and a stand devoted to cheese-focused menu items.  I am drawn in by the picture of the rainbow grilled cheese.  Just might try that one just to see what in the world a rainbow grilled cheese sandwich looks like.  I continue to move on.

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I spy more meat-free options, but, I’ll admit, they’re more snack-y than anything else – giant curly fries, Merlino’s Freeze, ice cream from Leatherby’s.  Gabriel distracts me by locating the wine garden.  I did so enjoy the wine slushies the first time we tried them way back when.  Riding my mobility scooter, I zip along with him.

I see one more promising array of options.  For the Catholic in me, these look like the best (healthiest) options so far – platters of bread, cheese and fresh fruit or just fruit.  Yummy.  Despite being in a place full of some crazy food options, it’s the more mundane, everyday choices that catch my eye the strongest.  However, I still tell myself to keep it moving.

At the end of the day, it really isn’t tough to find some healthy or healthier food choices at the fair that don’t contain meat.  And, as a diabetic, it’s all about portion control and pacing yourself if you absolutely must have that funnel cake and churro and ice-cold watermelon (there is such a thing as having a bite then giving the rest to one’s spouse).  Ideally, there’d be a balance of protein, carb and veg (hey, there are hidden veggies in those tacos and in the pesto and marinara of the tortellini plates).  Go, have fun and enjoy your fair food!

#kakainna #castatefair #socalval

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