How hard should it be to find something good to eat at the county fair? Then again, if you're looking for something "good" it might be useful to define your terms more closely. Did you mean something yummy and delicious? There are lots of ways to get those. The number of deep-fried items alone could keep a family of five busy for days. Presented with this conundrum at the Alameda County Fair, my family took this challenge seriously. Of course any food can be improved by dropping it into a vat of hot fat, but would it be best to pick something from the "pretty tasty" category before boiling, with the notion that once the item has been deep-fried it could become almost unfathomably flavorful. Or, would you do what we did: We picked America's favorite cookie, the Oreo, to be the base upon which we would build our treat. Battered and boiled, we were given a paper tub of these golden orbs, lovingly sprinkled with powdered sugar, and as we were finishing up our transaction we were asked, "Do y'all want chocolate on that?" Of course we do. Of course we want to push the needle of danger of heart attack and stroke even further into the red by adding as much sweet and fat into this recipe as possible.
Then came the moment of truth. In the ninety-degree heat, which must have been a contributing factor to our decision, we each took a turn at we hath wrought. It was my wife's higher brain functions that kicked in first. She only needed the tiniest bite to let her know that some horrible mistake had been made. My son, ever the adventurer, finished a whole greasy blob, wiping the sugar and syrup from his chin and exclaiming, "That's disgusting." It should be noted that this exclamation came with a smile, and he did swallow what he chewed, instead of spitting it out on the midway. Now I was stuck with the rest of our order, another three fried Oreos and the vision of my family's reaction to them.
The sensible thing to do would have been to drop the remaining nodules in the nearest overstuffed trash can, and go off in search of the frozen lemonade that would have made everything alright. I didn't take this course. I ate one. I ate two. I could feel my arteries constrict and the valves of my heart scream out like the steam drill battling John Henry's hammer. I looked around for the nearest Automated External Defibrillator. I wondered why, instead of offering me drizzled Hershey's chocolate sauce and powdered sugar, why the friendly lady hadn't offered me an adrenalin needle for the moment that my heart stopped. That's when I stopped. I had reached my limit at two. That left us with the one remaining fried Oreo. Eyes watering and brow sweating, I made my way down the path that lead us past a half dozen more trailers equipped with deep fat fryers, each one exalting us with claims of the best, the tastiest, the most heart-stopping. I kept moving, and when we encountered my son's friends, who had agreed to meet us at the fair, I played a game: Who wants to guess what this used to be before it was boiled in oil? Better them than me. I still had room for a waffle cone.