You can’t deep-fry salad and it’s kind of hard to put quinoa on a stick.
So what’s the point of having it at the county fair?
The annual San Mateo County Fair is a time to check one’s nutritional conscious at the gate, or at least before one gets to the midway, and put heavy thought into which deliverers of transfatty goodness and calories are on the menu that day. The 80th annual fair happening this week should be no different.
Will it be the deep-fried Twinkies and Oreos? Perhaps the funnel cake. You can’t have fair food without a funnel cake. Double up on the powdered sugar and whipped cream. Maybe chocolate sauce. If you can’t decide, consider it an excuse to come back another day and sample some more delicacies before settling in for the pig races or a turn on those weird massage chairs.
The fair is a time to eat food you would likely never order, ingest or justify on any other day or during many other events. Few will opt for deep-fried bacon or double-smothered whatever on a random Tuesday. Puffs and fritters and caramely deliciousness doesn’t always fly on those days you spent at the gym. But go to the fair and all bets are off. One needs their strength if they’re going to claim victory throwing darts at balloons or heaving ping pong balls into cups.
Don’t forget the super-sized corn dogs and the popular french fry brick. Top it all off with a frosty beverage, a swirl of cotton candy or a towering cone of swirled soft serve.
But this year, along with all who pray to the Church of the Deep Fat Fryer, those unwilling to give their cholesterol and waistline a mini-vacation at the San Mateo County Event Center need no longer sneak in their own tofu dogs and veggie chips for sustenance. Using a federal nutrition grant to help people make healthy food and exercise choices, the San Mateo County Health System and the fair paired up to offer a different type of fair fare. An announcement of the new options say they now exist at “a venue not typically known for its healthy food selection.”
See? Even they know the fair is not the place one traditionally goes for a spirulina smoothie followed by a wheatgrass chaser. This isn’t spin class, people. This is the fair and chances are when all those spinning rides do their nauseous damage, fairgoers would prefer to revisit an earlier milkshake or cheesecake on a stick rather than anything fat free, gluten free or holding on to even a crumb of vitamins.
But to be fair — pun very well intended, thank you — not everybody heading out to view the winners of the table decorating category or watch a metal hair band rock out believes the annual ode to agriculture and crafts is an excuse to dive head first into gluttony. For those seeking wellness, the fair requires all vendors this year to include a healthy option meeting nutritional criteria for calories, portion size and use of fruit and vegetables. The county said attendees can also indulge themselves with cooking demos and recipes featuring five county-grown vegetables: artichokes, fava beans, leeks, peas and Brussels sprouts.
Not sure about the peas and beans, but a stick of Brussels sprouts doesn’t sound half bad. At least if its fried and drizzled with balsamic.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.