Sampling the Fringe fare


Vue’s crack team of indiscriminate gluttons tastes what the Fringe is

It’s Fringe time again; our last big outdoor huzzah full of plays,
push-ups, beer, buskers and food before the long cold season I like to call
“Hockey.” (Well, maybe this year I’ll call it
“Curling”; I guess we’ll see.) Anyway, a couple of friends
and I thought we’d see just what the Fringe has to offer this year as
far as food goes, and whether you’re looking for a little casual
noshing, some quick sustenance between plays or to eat yourself into a
curry-riddled coma, the Fringe midway can deliver. And there’s beer in
the beer tents, too. Duh.

We arrive on Whyte ready to make a serious go of it—loose shirts and
stretchy maternity-type shorts are worn by all—and we lay down a few
ground rules: (1) No elephant ears, green onion cakes or meat-on-a-stick; (2)
Variety is encouraged; (3) The completion of every dish must be followed by a
trip to beer tent to cleanse the palette. With this established, we

All three of us begin looking for an entrée-type item to
start—you know, a good foundation upon which to build our pyramid of
excess. I opt for an order of chicken bhoona, almost entirely basing my
decision on the smell as I walk by. Dee-lish. For $5.50 I would have liked
more chicken, but I was satisfied nonetheless, thanks in part to the liberal
usage of two sauces named “tamarind sweet” and “very hot
hot.” Hall (the names here have been changed to protect the
gluttonous), meanwhile, goes for the chicken roti ($6) despite not being sure
what it is. What a trooper. Initially disappointed by the size of the dish,
he grudgingly admits that it’s “not bad for a hip-pack full of
stew.” Oates goes for the more recognizable bul-go-gi beef ($6.50), a
safe choice that leaves him happy. Or maybe it was the beer.

Not wanting to have a blow-out so early in the day, our search turned next to
smaller fare. I got an order of beef ribs for $3.50 that, frankly, left me
pissed off. There were perhaps two and a half edible mouthfuls in all on the
fatty bones, most of which I had a hell of a time dislodging from my teeth.
Hall was also disappointed by his $2 smokie, which he described as
“pedestrian.” Pretty heady words for a wiener there, buddy. The
highlight of this round had to be Oates’ purchase of the deep-fried
Mars bar ($3). Brilliant. I jealously watched while he devoured the greasy
treat. “I’m like the Fringe food James Dean,” he said.
“Die young and leave a greasy, bloated corpse.”

And for a while there we thought he might do that very thing. Over the next
half-hour he grew more and more incoherent until he just wandered away
mumbling something about an “insulin smoothie.” What a kidder.
Hall and I took this chance to head to the Pogo kiosk on the outskirts of the
midway to try a complimentary Pogo dog, which turned out to be about as
“complimentary” as herpes. I couldn’t get to the beer tent
fast enough to get the taste of sour wiener out of my mouth. It was about
time I got myself a greasy and sugary treat, so a bag of mini donuts ($3) was
purchased en route. I know, I know—they’re about as standard as
you can get at the Fringe, but I like ‘em. And I think I deserved them
after the Pogo debacle. Halfway through my beer, Oates reappeared with a
sno-kone. He was still feeling a little out of it, but I was relieved to see
that the desperate hunted look had faded from his eyes. He greedily wolfed it
down, extolling the healing virtues of Red Dye Number Five while Hall and I
were enjoying the healing powers of Beer Number Three.

Feeling ourselves getting to the ends of our collective gastro-intestinal
ropes, we went hunting for suitable courses to finish off the afternoon. I
settled on a cappuccino and deep-fried ice cream for $6.50 altogether; the
coffee was alright, but the dessert was about as bland as it gets. Soooo
disappointing. It’s ice cream. It’s deep-fried. How can you screw
this up? I looked up from my tasteless mush only to see Hall biting into his
deep-fried Snickers bar. Bastard! The combination of getting shut out on my
last dish, the hot sun and the three asshats singing “The Lion Sleeps
Tonight” somewhere nearby was fast bringing me to the edge, and I
needed one last trip to the beer tent.

Once there, we decided to tally up the day’s indulgences; surprisingly,
our tab came to a respectable $43 spent on food and $52 on beer. Thirty bucks
a head for a full day’s gorging? That ain’t that bad. Okay, so it
wasn’t the most culturally stimulating day, and the food can be pretty
hit or miss, but what did we learn? Well, nothing, really. If you want life
lessons, watch Reba. If you want lunch, try the chicken bhoona.

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