Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

In commemoration of all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have molded America into what we are today, I'm going to focus on one summer tradition that really epitomizes us to the outside world: fried fair food.  There is seemingly nothing more American (to me) than overpriced food, on a blistering hot day, that is more likely than not going to make someone nauseous, especially if they go on the tilt-a-whirl located 20 feet from where said food is served!

Today is the last day of the San Diego County Fair, which is nothing like the Taste of Chicago, but since this is where I am, that is where I shall be.  As opposed to some of the more culinary treats Chicago hosts, San Diego is big into Chicken Charlie's: the booth that will deep fry anything to get you to spend $6+ on a sampling of it.  And yes, I did give them quite a bit of my hard earned money this year (as I do every year) to say that I've tried the next big "thing."

This year, everyone seemed to be talking about Fried Kool Aid.  Really?  Kool Aid??  Of course I had to try it - we went for the Chocolate Covered Bacon three years ago, why wouldn't we try this, too?

Okay, here's the truth about Chicken Charlie's: they use a Krusteaz fish & chips style batter on everything, so everything tastes pretty much the same.  However, you can usually taste a bit of what originally existed before the frying, and much is the same with the fried Kool Aid balls.  They taste predominately like batter, but every now and then you get that sweet, sugary taste of eating Kool Aid straight out of the packet.  It's an odd sensation to add to the flat batter taste, but I can say I tried it, and it tasted like fried sugar?  Maybe so.

Next on the list is Fried Girl Scout Cookies.  More specifically, fried Thin Mints.  Now I LOVE Thin Mints.  I make sure to buy a package (or four) every year, stock up the freezer, and take out a sleeve for dessert about once a month to help use them sparingly.  Thomas doesn't agree with my approach, but I try to make them last as long as possible.  There's lots of possibility in a friend GS Thin Mint, but I think these fell short.  There was too much batter to cookie ratio.  Maybe if there had been two cookies, and more cookie flavor, it would have been better, but as it was, it was just okay.  These also fell short of my expectations, but after awhile, all the fried food really just tastes the same to me.
Next up is the Fried Brownie.  Now, I know you're going to say that those look awfully similar to the Fried Girl Scout Cookies.  This may be true: Chicken Charlie's doesn't do much for presentation.  Fortunately for everyone involved, these two dishes were worlds apart.  The brownie was actually quite sizable, and it was able to hold its own against the batter, which is really what we're looking for in this situation.  We were all impressed by the brownie, but by this point, the batter quotient was getting to high, and we were having a nibble of each fried ball o' goodness.  There were three of us, which you'd think would make it easier, but in fact, it was even more difficult considering what else we had already eaten that day...
First, we came across the ginormous smoked turkey legs.  Thomas had one of those before I could blink twice.  He said that it was amazing, and I believe him. Anything that's bigger than your head is bound to be a tasty treat!
Mary had the corn dog and lemonade from the Hot Dog on a Stick folks.  This is something that I've had, and can say is good, but it's a dangerous slope to start.  I need a corn dog with curly fries with cotton candy with...  well, you get the picture.  She gave them both big thumbs up, so I believe I'll trust that recommendation!

Now I went with the fake curly fries option: curly fried zucchini with a side of ranch.  AMAZING!  However, this plate was huge, and I couldn't finish even half of it, so I needed to call in reinforcements from Thomas and Mary to help coming closer to finishing it, but there was still some waste.  :(
Obviously, we were full before we even tried the fried goodies, but we tried, and that's all that matters.  That's the American Way, right?  Give it that good ol' College Try! (which, doesn't make sense to me, and if you've ever spent any time on a college campus, you might agree!)

Seriously, though, get out there and celebrate the Declaration of Independence today.  I am thankful for those who have given their lives in order to make our country what it is today.  Love it or hate it, it's ours due to the sacrifice that others made for us: the least we can be is thankful.
Mount Soledad Veteran Memorial, overlooking all of San Diego County

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