Nothing screams summertime quite like a fair. While I’m not a fan of being outside in the scorching heat, good food and drinks is usually enough to coax me out of my air conditioned bedroom. I headed down to the Orange International Street Fair for my first time this weekend. The annual event, which has been taking place for more than forty years, was the perfect mix of sweet aromas, fattening foods, and a wholesome international vibe.
The event takes over the historic downtown area of Orange Circle and includes “streets” that have designated countries on them. Countries ranged from Switzerland to Italy to Polynesia, which meant my stomach was thrilled to take part in the international eating. As a world traveler, one of my favorite parts of experiencing a new culture is eating their specific cuisine.
While the higher-than-normal prices were to be expected, I felt that I was able to enjoy a wide variety of cultural foods that I would not have tried otherwise. We came with empty stomachs because we knew we would be sampling so many foods. And by “sampling”, I mean devouring totally normal portions. And by “normal”, I mean…well…yeah.
It was 90 degrees around 10:30 AM…thanks California. The crowds were still trickling in, which is a good thing, because I’ve heard the fair can get uncomfortably crowded as the day goes on. I had heard great things (i.e. the lines were wrapped around the booth) about the gyros at the Greece booth, so we headed there first. J had a gyro, while I opted for a chicken soulvaki as I don’t eat beef or lamb. The bread was to die for and the tzatzkis sauce helped bring out the chicken’s flavor without overpowering it. ($6 each)
We then headed over to the Danish booth, where we split three Danish donuts. They were crispy on the outside and had nice, moist batter inside. The powdered sugar on top sealed the deal! (3/$4)
By this time I was almost ready to go home, jump in cold water, and never come out to see the sun again. Almost. Luckily, my love for food overpowered my hate for the extreme heat and we carried on with our cultural journey. We decided to cool off and share a Mexican ice treat. I loved how thin it was. The mango was good, but I would have loved a bit more flavor. I wasn’t surprised that it was artificial flavoring. You win some, you lose some. It was still a good sweet treat.
After that, we walked around the commercial booths for a bit. I practiced self control and didn’t purchase anything. Weee! :) We sat down for a bit to cool off.
Based off of what I’ve heard, it’s a good thing we showed up early. There were no issues with security or safety while I was there and the volunteers seemed to work cohesively and were knowledgeable about the happenings, which is always great. However, I’ve seen pictures and video clips from the event and it’s easy to say the best time to bring your children is in the early morning or afternoon. Avoid the drunk crowds (and heat) and knock it out of the ball park early in the morning.
Although I wasn’t able to take any international trips this summer, my stomach did! The fair will be back next year, starting September 4th. I’ll be sure to come with plenty of sunscreen, light clothing, and a huge appetite.
What’s your favorite thing about summer fairs?