I went to the annual OC Fair and I was disappointed. The colorful memories and chimerical sounds of music that I sculpted in mind since childhood were shattered by the giant portions of deep-fried foods, their ridiculous names, and their loathsome appearances. Today’s food industry killed the most magical place of my early years; it wounded the little child inside me and making him cried.
Although I acknowledged that food played an important factor in some culture, I doubted that the overprice and the third-class quality was parts of any culture. Food companies spent years studying our eating and spending habits. They knew how to persuade our minds with their packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and sizes, lights and colors and other environmental factors. They corrupted our curiosities with the shiny looks of their unhealthy food items and the colorful portions of cheap vegetables.
Events like this were the great opportunities for them to pocket our hard-earned money.
The first thing that grabbed my attention was the giant and colorful sign in the photo above. Food trailers dominated the entire OC Fair this year. They stretched from one entrance to another, pushing the game and other entertainment tents to corners. Everything here was humongous in size. For a few decades now, waistline and food portions had been ballooning across America. From the land of the free, America quickly became the home of the artery clogging super-sized menus. A $17 portion of the two foot long Big Beef Rib could easily feed an entire village in a third world country. This was the opposite of the American’s new concept of eating healthy and moderation.
Foods were available in all ridiculous names and appearances. Deep Fried cereal, Deep Fried Kool Aide, Fried Oreo, Bacon Wrapped Oreo, Fried Klondike Bar, Fried Coke, Chocolate Covered Bacon, Jelly Filled Krispy Kreme Donut with Chicken Patty, Bacon Sundae. They must have hired Bart Simpson and his gang to invent these items and to come up with the ridiculous names.
These companies’ emphases didn’t focus on their value menus but rather on the consumer’s pockets. The overpriced, third-class food was carefully concealed behind the size of the food items. All the dishes were between $9.95 and $19.95. A small portion of Fried Twinkle cost $4.50. Anthony Bourdain would burn down those food trailers and cursed on their food for the next three generations if he had a lick of the super-sized Smoked Turkey Legs. They were salty, dry and as tough as dinosaur fossils.
I did not expect to spend an evening at the fair to witness the popularization of gluttony and the social acceptance of it. Many fairgoers showed they’re eager for tasting sugar-loaded, fattening food items like the Fried Coke or the Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich. No one expected that these giant food portions forced them to eat at least 30% more than what they would normally consume. Who was to blame? The consumers or the food companies?
On a brighter note, the service at the OC Fair were the best. I had seen the fair attendants constantly swept the ground and wiped the tables. Although the crew behind the smoking grills were not the Five Stars Iron Chefs, they did their best to keep these oversized hotdogs and overpriced turkey legs ready to serve the crowd.
I also found that the best place to sit down to enjoy a meal with friends and family were the Cantina Hussong’s Bar. While it was not the famous 1892 Johann Hussong’s Cantina, it sure gave you a similar feel and the best local Mexican bands.
An evening at the annual OC Fair brought me not the fun but instead the fried concoction show. What used to make the fair special was the spirit and the local involvement of arts and crafts. That spirit had shifted toward the craze for sweet and greasy food. The local artists and craftsmen had mostly been replaced by shops and vendors. The fair’s spirit had died.
Long Live Food Porn!