Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tunbridge World Fair

This year's fair at Tunbridge was far more crowded than previous years. The parking lots were super-full and there was a huge long line at the entrance gate. Siobhan thinks it's because we weren't early enough, but we weren't much later than last year. Each year it seems to be a lot bigger than the previous, and Tunbridge is going to have to make more room.

The fair itself was, apart from the crowds, about the same as previous years. I remembered only the day we were going that I intended to submit a couple of photos to the competition; maybe next year. I think the Lego part of the kids' competition area was increased. There weren't any of the mega-huge pumpkins this year; since I (vaguely, from work) know the guy who grows the biggest ones the last few years, I was wondering if I'd see the one he got in the news this year, but he doesn't usually take it to Tunbridge because you can only take those things to so many fairs. Guess everyone else in the huge pumpkin industry decided to skip it too.

I brought my netbook hoping to do some writing, and on the way up I'd made a few notes, but there was never a good place and time to take it out and work on it while I was there. (I did manage to write half the story on the way home, and the rest when I got home. To my surprise it turned out to be a comedy.)

Fair food was never as big a deal for me as for a lot of people; it's just greasy food to me, and while I like greasy food, fair versions just always strike me as too inconsistent. I think fair food's appeal is for a lot of people nostalgia, remembering a time (in childhood, I suppose) where that's the only place they got food like that. I didn't get that, so fair food for me is mostly just like stuff I can get elsewhere or make myself, only not as well done. For instance, the fried food is usually either too crispy or not crispy enough, or worse yet, too crispy in places and not fully cooked in others.

The price of the infamous "blooming onion" and the conclusion that it's really just onion rings has always kept me from getting one, but since I wasn't really in the mood for anything else I saw, I went ahead and got one just so I could say I'd had one. My conclusion: it's not even just onion rings: it's a lesser species of onion rings.

A blooming onion has one advantage over onion rings: it's a little neater to eat in a fair, when walking around, because it's a bunch of bite-sized pieces you break off one at a time, and the dip is neatly held in the center. It's like the version of onion rings you'd make if convenient eating was more important than good taste. But the price is that if the batter is well-crisped at one end, it has to be a bit soggy at the other, and the thickest part of each onion piece is a part that's barely cooked and not battered at all.

So I'm wondering why people actually would buy a special device to make blooming onions at home. Wouldn't it be better to just have onion rings, which don't really require special equipment anyway? Are blooming onions better in some way that the one I had didn't reveal? Is there some reason other people like them better? Or is it just nostalgia?

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