Adventures in eating abound at the fair

A relatively healthy pineapple boat includes rice and grilled chicken.
A relatively healthy pineapple boat includes rice and grilled chicken.

The San Diego County Fair kicked off last week and along with the concerts, specialty shows, competitions and rides, many make the trip down to Del Mar for a taste of the some of the most interesting and delicious foods that are served up piping hot and fresh and can only be found at a fair. Traditional fair food ranges from tame (corndogs) to wild (huge turkey legs), but new additions to the culinary landscape at the San Diego County Fair are getting more outrageous.

The smell of bacon cooking fills the air and while that fits the theme “Where the West is Fun,” wrapping bacon around those turkey legs and sausage isn’t adventurous enough. Fairgoers will find bacon-wrapped jalapenos, pineapple (Luau kabob), Brussels sprouts, asparagus and even bacon-wrapped cactus.

For a sweet and savory combination, there is bacon covered with chocolate and maple bacon donuts depending on which way you wander through the fairgrounds. It is a good idea to take a tour of the place to see what all the choices are if you aren’t sure what you want to eat.

Other deep-fried food choices include pizza, Snickers, string cheese and lemonade (in a batter) to name a few. While garlic battered artichokes and mushrooms might be a little more nutritious, the strangest item is a deep-fried octopus (small whole creatures).

Plain french fries won’t do either. There are curly colossal fries, Australian battered potatoes and California fries topped with avocado slices, feta cheese and ranch dressing. The fresh-made potato chips are delicious.

There are at least two Italian eating places serving traditional fare, some with a twist. Besides spaghetti and pizza, they serve ravioli on a stick, tortellini sandwiches and pasta bowls. One vendor is adding peanut butter to the meatballs for an extra taste sensation.

Bacon-wrapped foods include, from left, sausage, the Luau Kabab (pineapple), Brussels sprouts (front), asparagus (back), and jalapenos. Lucette Moramarco photos
Bacon-wrapped foods include, from left, sausage, the Luau Kabab (pineapple), Brussels sprouts (front), asparagus (back), and jalapenos. Lucette Moramarco photos

Other grilling meats also tantalize taste buds, from half pound burgers and brisket to chicken and pork ribs You can also find grilled corn on the cob and artichokes as well as gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

Foods of all kinds are available including fish and chips, Maui beef and chicken, turkey leg tacos, Navajo tacos (made with Indian fry bread), Caribbean style jerk chicken, and falafel burgers.

Mexican food is also represented including the Palapa Taco booth which has a sign saying, “You can eat health smart at the fair.” Vegetarian burritos, and Baja tacos and burritos with a choice of fish, carne asada and shrimp, are available there along with a shrimp taco salad.

Other healthy offerings are an artichoke sandwich, veggie combo plate, chicken pita sandwich and a cauliflower sandwich.

To satisfy one’s sweet tooth, sweets available include kettle corn, funnel cake, Texas donuts, shaved ice, churros, frozen yogurt, and Mexican fried ice cream.

No matter whether your preferences in food are traditional or adventurous, there is food to satisfy your cravings at the fair.

For those fairgoers on a tight budget or dietary restrictions, the fair does allow visitors to bring in their own food.

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