Monday, May 18, 2009

An ode to carnival food

As you may have noticed, if you scroll down the page a little ways, there is a poll asking what you like about Fun Fourth. If you haven't seen it, you should take a look. Vote if you feel like it. I'll wait.

Ok? Anyhoo. It's a good poll, but I do have a small quibble with it. My absolute favorite part of Fun Fourth is not an option. The thing that I like the most about Fun Fourth is the food. Ever since I was a kid, I've associated street festivals and carnivals and the like with food, because there are certain things that you just can't get at home. The cotton candy, the sno-cones, the roasted corn, the hot dogs, but more than anything else, the funnel cakes.

I love funnel cakes. I wish I could explain why. After all, it's just fried dough and powdered sugar. Some people like to put other toppings on theirs, but I don't need any extra frills (although I did just see a picture of a funnel cake with powdered sugar and M&Ms, which is genius). But look at it.

It's perfect in its simplicity. It's also messy and bad for you, and that is precisely why it's so wonderful.

Several years ago, long before I started working for Grassroots, I was rehearsing for a local community theatre production, and we were in the middle of tech week at the Carolina Theatre during Fun Fourth. At that time, the Festival map was different, and there were rides and booths and food vendors right next door to the theatre. Now, for the first number of the show, I had to wear a short, Pepto-Bismol pink wig (this is important to the story). At one point in the dressing room, one of my fellow cast members mentioned that there was a funnel cake vendor just outside. Naturally, I was very happy about this. I wanted to go get one, but I already had my wig on, and I was a teenager and still cared what strangers thought of me, and so I asked my friend if she would get me a funnel cake if I gave her money. She made me a counter offer: that she would buy me a funnel cake if I would go with her to get it, while wearing my wig.

I hesitated for about two seconds. Some people stared, and little children pointed at me, but I didn't care. I got a free funnel cake, and it was good.

At some point this year on the day of the Festival, you may see me striding through the streets with a sense of purpose, a grin of anticipatory glee on my face, and you'll know why. There's a lot to enjoy at Fun Fourth: the parade, the bands, the crafts, and of course, the wide variety of food. I hope you get a chance to see, hear, and taste it all.

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