Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: County Fair Food

Nascar fans, meet the funnel bacakonator


Charlotte Motor speedway in North Carolina geared up for the Bank of America 500 Nascar Sprint Cup series this week with a new menu. To help amp up the crowd, they introduced some unique eats.

Nothing says fast cars and burning rubber like the funnel bacakonator. This bad boy belongs with the artery-clogging, greasy, gluttonous offerings you're likely to find at a county fair. The bacakonator consists of a large funnel cake drizzled with chocolate and strawberry sauces, topped with a hefty helping of bacon.

Also on the menu is the Charlotte pimento mac 'n' cheese burger. Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like (but more): an Angus beef burger topped with a scoop of pimento mac 'n' cheese, then covered in crumbled pork rinds. I can't tell if my heart is pounding from sheer excitement or fear.

For the health-conscious, the Danica Patrick "Fit Fuel" menu will debut at the speedway. It includes such options as a turkey burger, veggie burger and grilled chicken sandwich.

-- Jenn Harris


Photo: The funnel bacakonator. Credit: Charlottemotorspeedway.com.

Four Food Events You Should Know About: Your weekend is made of food


It's Greek to me Get your Zorba on at the 60th annual Long Beach Greek Festival. Enjoy a wide variety of authentic Greek dishes and pastries, including spanakopita, Greek barbecue, pork souvlaki and baklava. Also on the menu: traditional Greek costumes, dancing, music by the Olympians, game booths, carnival rides, specialty shops, a children's play area and more. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, 5761 E. Colorado St., Long Beach. Noon to 9 p.m., daily, through Monday. Adults, $3; children under 12, free. (562) 494-8929. www.lbgreekfest.org.

The frying game The L.A. County Fair is back and ready to give you and yours a fatty dose of food love. Come for the rides, people-watching and entertainment; stay for row after row of food booths featuring the snacks and treats that you probably associate most closely with your childhood including hot dogs, nachos, pizza, ice cream, sausages, barbecue, and of course, all things deep fried and golden. (Check out the story Elina Shatkin wrote about Chicken Charlie's booth and his Frankenstein-like fried creations.) 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona. Opening weekend lasts from Saturday through Monday. 10 a.m. to midnight, Saturday and Sunday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday. $17; or $1 if you arrive between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (909) 623-3111. www.lacountyfair.com.


Why the sour face? If you're a devoted lover of pickled cabbage, consider attending the Machine Project's Kraut Fest '09. Sign up to learn how to make sauerkraut, kimchi or both. You bring the ingredients and you'll be provided with a "kraut kit," which includes a bucket, a plate and a hand silk-screened poster. Machine Project, 1200 D N. Alvarado St., L.A. 11 a.m., making sauerkraut; noon, making kimchi. $10 per demonstration, $15 for both. (213) 483-8761. www.machineproject.com.


Potluck for change Attend an "eat-in" in support of encouraging the introduction of healthful, locally sourced food into school lunchrooms. Those in attendance will share the food they bring, sign petitions and call their legislators. This event is being sponsored by Slow Food L.A. and organized by Jennie Cook catering. There are five additional eat-ins happening around town, so check the Slow Food website for times and locations. The Cesar Chavez Arboretum in Elysian Park, 835 Academy Road, L.A. 11:30 a.m. Free. (310) 850-1884. www.slowfoodla.com.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Baklava. Credit: Rick Meyer / Los Angeles Times

Chicken Charlie, Southern California's deep-fry king

Chicken Charlie (a.k.a. Charles Boghosian) holds deep-fried frog legs. He sells about 2,000 legs during a typical, three-week county fair. Inspired by the Armenian dishes his mother cooked, Charlie Boghosian, better known to fairgoers as Chicken Charlie, decided to put his culinary talents to use. Instead of stuffing vegetables with ground beef, rice and pine nuts, Boghosian hollowed out a zucchini, stuffed it with a turkey frank, battered and deep-fried it.

Voila! The Zucchini Weenie was born.

Introduced at this year's Orange Count Fair and soon to be on sale at the L.A. County Fair (Saturday to Oct. 4), it’s only the latest concoction from a man who has single-mindedly devoted himself to the dark art of the deep fryer.

Over the last decade, Southern California's deep fry king has battered and deep-fried pickles, olives, s'mores, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Twinkies, cheesecake, cupcakes, frog legs, White Castle cheeseburgers, Oreos, avocados and more.

How did an immigrant with dreams of going into law enforcement take a detour and end up as Southern California's deep-fry king? Click here to find out. (And click here for our photo essay on the fried fare at last year's fair.)

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Chicken Charlie (a.k.a. Charlie Boghosian) with deep-fried frog legs. He sells about 2,000 legs during a typical three-week county fair. Credit: Ken Hively  / Los Angeles. Times

Chocolate-covered bacon, Zucchini Weenies and more join the fried fare at the O.C. Fair

Left: Zucchini Weenies. Right: Chocolate-covered bacon. Both will be sold at the 2009 O.C. Fair.

The O.C. "Super" Fair kicks off tomorrow. For some, that means Ferris wheels, pig races and chart-topping 1980s bands exploiting the power of nostalgia. For others -- you know who you are, fellow gluttons -- it's an annual pilgrimage to the mecca of deep-fried food.

Last year, I hardened my arteries by sampling nearly every fried food item at the O.C. Fair. (Make a beeline for deep-fried zucchini, apple sticks and Reese's Whips. Avoid deep-fried White Castle burgers, frog legs and Tootsie Rolls.)

This year, you can expect some brand new fried fare at the fair:

  • Zucchini Weenie: a hot dog inside a hollowed-out zucchini that's battered and deep-fried. ($5.75)
  • Pizza Bites: battered and deep-fried mini-pizza bagels. ($5.75)
  • Smores: graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate that's sandwiched together, battered and deep-fried. ($5.75)
  • Zucchini Nachos: battered and deep-fried zucchini curls that are covered in cheese, bacon and jalapenos. ($8.75)
  • Jumbo Mexican Funnel Cake: made with churro batter, this massive, ridged and coiled funnel cake is topped with whipped cream and strawberries. If you eat it by yourself in 20 minutes, you get it for free. ($9)
  • Chocolate-Covered Bacon: bacon is coated in semi-sweet chocolate, frozen, sliced into small strips and served in a Chinese food container. ($4.50)

The O.C. Fair runs July 10 through Aug. 9.

--Elina Shatkin

Photo credit: Orange County Fair

It's National Corndog Day on Saturday

Intrepid reporter Elina Shatkin hoists a 2-pound, 12-inch long Cowabunga Corn Dog at the O.C. Fair. Credit: Rob Takata, For The times Meat on a stick has a glorious, multi-ethnic history, spanning everything from shish kebabs broiled over campfires on Turkish nomads' swords to skewers cooked in Indian tandoori ovens. But none is so uniquely American as the corndog.

This tube of meat coated in corn batter and deep fried has been a fair staple since it was sold for the first time at either the 1942 Texas State Fair or the 1941 Minnesota State Fair.

Let us take a moment to celebrate National Corndog Day on Saturday, the annual holiday that's held the first Saturday of March Madness. Whether you're microwaving a frozen corndog bought in bulk from Costco or noshing on one of Boa's mini Kobe beef corndogs, we can all enjoy pressed meat on a stick.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Intrepid reporter Elina Shatkin hoists a 2-pound, 12-inch-long Cowabunga Corn Dog at the O.C. Fair. (Credit: Rob Takata / For The Times)


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.