Ah, the Iowa State Fair. It's the stuff musicals are made of. The midway, big animals, throngs of people in various stages of undress, vendors, peddlers &...food.
Whenever I think of going to The Fair, I think of the scene from "Charlotte's Web" where Templeton croons about the virtues of largess & gluttony. For Old Sara, The Fair was a food-fest like no other, limited only by my budget, not my appetite. New Sara has a slightly different take on Fair Fun, but sadly I cannot say that the changes were made as a conscious choice for health & wellness. I owe my State Fair Food Overhaul to a man I've never met, named Jack Decoster. With The Fair opening this week, let me tell you a tale...
It was August 2010. The sun was shinning, the birds were chirping & we were having fun at The Fair. I was six months into my journey & had lost about 45 lbs. I was feeling good. In fact, I would say that the pictures taken on that day represented one of the first times that I didn't feel ridiculously uncomfortable as the subject of a photo. I had carefully planned in advance what foods were worth a splurge for me (SHARED funnel cake) & what I would pass on in the interest of calorie economy (ice cream, anything fried-on-a-stick, cheese curds & corn dogs). In the evening, when my kids were safely nestled all snug in their beds with Grandma watching over them, I had saved enough points to have two beers (my first since being pregnant with Coraline) as Dave & I watched Vanilla Ice (yup, he played "Ninja Rap") on a free stage & I felt that I had balanced my desire for crap with my desire for results. I was pleased.
As we sat on the shuttle back to our car, I started to feel awful. I chalked it up to a combo of greasy funnel cake & beer, both of which my body had grown a bit unaccustomed to. I've never had a weak stomach, but I was willing to believe that the shock to the system had been great. I started to get scared that I would be sick on the bus. I started to make wild eyes at Dave, to which he could do nothing but say, "We'll be home soon." You can pass that off on a small child, I was wise & worried. But, make it I did & I shuttled myself straight up to bed. By the time we got home, I looked like I had been on an all day bender. Despite my sunburn, I was pale as a ghost & my eyes were swimming.
It didn't take long before I was paying the piper...over & over & over again. It was the sickest I have EVER been in my whole life. All night & all the next day I was throwing up violently until there was nothing left, but my stomach didn't get the memo & just kept plugging along at the Dance of the Flying Puke Flecks.
The only saving grace was the preservation of my family. I was so worried that my hubby or kids would catch it. Clearly it wasn't the ill effects of grease that caused me to be THAT sick, so I must have picked up an Amazon Death Plague. When Dave got sick a week later, the poor guy was terrified. At least I had gone into the ordeal with hope..."Maybe this is the last time I'll puke...?" Dave had no such delusions. And again we waited & watched our kids. Again they seemed unscathed. Dave was just starting to stop puking & enter the two week phase of utter exhaustion when a letter arrived in the mail...from Costco.
"It has come to our attention that you may have purchased eggs...(insert legal speak here). " Bottom line: we had salmonella poisoning in last summer's egg fiasco. Rewind to the day before the fair: I made a meatloaf for supper & handled a raw egg/shell. A week after I got sick: Dave boiled some eggs & touched the shells. Boom.
And that is the story of how I will NEVER in my life eat another funnel cake. The memory of it "the second time" has erased any desire I have ever had for fair confections. Thank you, Jack Decoster for your shady farming practices causing me to take a closer look at where my food comes from & to swear off certain manners of fair food that I didn't NEED to be eating anyway.
**Amusing epilogue: I had to write this post in three sittings because I kept getting queasy, sweaty & head-achy just thinking about the awfulness that was Salmonella Sara.**