The CNE has a deal wherein if you go after 5pm on Mon-Thurs you get in at a discounted rate, $5. So we took advantage of it. Camilla and Lucy had wanted to go to a ghost lecture and tour. Alex wanted to meet the UFC fighters. And I wanted to stuff my face with food. How could we lose?! We decided to bike there, which in retrospect was a dumb idea, but more on that later. So we got there a little bit after 5pm and split up. Me and Camilla headed to the lecture, Lucy and Alex to stand in line for the meet & greet. We were to reconvene at the lecture. That did not happen. It was full. Apparently a lot of people want to hear about paranormal “research” so we instead went to look at the exhibit associated with it. As a photographer I had quite the point of contention with their “spirit” photographs. For one thing, the researcher discounted a visitor’s photo (taken on the previous years ghost tour) as a double exposure. Yet the researcher’s photo of a “mysterious mist” that arose was a ghost, not a “camera malfunction”. And the photo of “energy exiting the medium” as she did a seance, was just that, nope, it was not light refracting in the lens. No, it was a ghost. My favourite ghost story had to be the ringing telephone. A phone in the old stadium kept ringing, so the security guards went to investigate, only to find it was unplugged! Oh no! What were they to do? Well of course, stick it in a closet. I almost choked on my coffee laughing.
After waiting for what seemed like forever, we finally got to go on the tour (Alex and Lucy met us along the way). It was about an hour long and we had not packed snacks. But hey, that was fine, it only made us hungrier for our late dinner plans: pizza on a stick. An already convenient, easy to eat, hand-held food made all the more so by cramming a stick into it. Initially I was the only one who had wanted it, but after talking everyone’s ears off about it, I had managed to convert both Camilla and Lucy to it. After the tour we walked back to the midway in search of the pizza and dessert as well, deep-fried nanaimo bars. We went through the whole midway and came up empty handed. We found an information booth and asked of the whereabouts of our sought after food. The woman pulled out a binder that had a detailed and chart filled guide to where everything was. I admit, I really felt like stealing it. After some searching we were told that the pizza was in the food building and that the nanaimo bars were outside the Direct Energy Centre in that part of the midway (which is where some soldiers died during the Battle of York in the War of 1812 as I found out on the tour).
The pizza on a stick was from Mamma’s Pizza… it was colossal. And this is no word-play understatement. It was literally bigger than my head. The pizza was on a paint stirring stick. Not a popsicle stick as I had thought. We each, in a moment of lost judgement, ordered one. As we walked and attempted to eat it (the large size kind of defeats the portability and ease of eating) we got more than a few sideways glances and some people even asked us where we got it and promptly went and stood in line. Not soon after had we started, Lucy’s pizza broke under it’s own weight and started coming off the stick. It was hilarious. None of us managed to get more than halfway through before the moaning began. Portion control was thrown right out the window with this meal. We wrapped up the rest and are now munching on it throughout the day, it is just as good cold. The pizza itself was just a regular pepperoni slice. Nothing outstanding. Albeit it was a rather thick crust (sturdy, so it would stay on the stick). For the novelty factor it was definitely worth it. Hands-down most fun pizza I have ever eaten. Would I ever do it again? Yes. Except I would split it with at least one other person.
Full of pizza, we slowly made our way back to the midway outside DEC to find the nanaimo’s and to also get some free slushies (thank to Lucy’s friend who works there, free coupons). Here we split up again. Lucy took Alex to the International Pavilion to the Columbian coffee stand (the coffee I almost spit-took with earlier during the ghost phone story was from there) for what she claims to be the best hot chocolate ever (they actually steam milk for it, instead of just adding hot water to it like most other places). Camilla stood in line for deep-fried brownies because we had gone up and down the midway and not seen any signs with nanaimo bars on them. The brownies were our back up alternate, but I was not ready to admit defeat. The line was long (it was to Sweet Treats, aka the deep-fried butter people) so I ventured off in (desperate) search of the nanaimos. I chanced upon another information booth and asked. She told me it was at Sweet Treats, in the middle of the midway. It is not in the middle of the midway, I almost lost our place in line by telling Camilla it was at another booth (thankfully I got hold of her before she left the line). We got to the front of the line and I ordered and the woman was like “What? You mean deep-fried chocolate bar?” and I was like “What? No! Nanaimo bar” and she said they did not sell that there. I sighed and settled for the brownie.
Settled is the right word. It was not nearly as good as the other deep-fried stuff I have had. For one it was brownie batter in corn dog batter and on a stick, making it hard for 3 people to share. The brownie part itself was really good, owing to the fact that it was melty and like eating batter. But I could have done without the corndog batter, it was too thick. The Oreos only had a thin coating of it, making for a semi-crunchy outer layer. The deep-fried brownie was also much messier to eat, partly because it was on a stick and partly because of the consistency. Or, it could have been the squirt of chocolate sauce and sprinkling of powdered sugar on top. It is not that I had my heart set on nanaimo, for if you remember that is what I wanted the first time, Oreos were also a backup.
The free slushie was no better. Nothing compares to the quality of a Slurpee. It got icy and hard to drink really fast. I pretty much sucked out the syrup. I threw most of it out for lack of being able to even ingest it. And after ingesting all of that, ooh man my stomach. A market niche that has not been taken advantage of at the CNE thus far would be selling antacids and Pepto-Bismol and peppermint tea. If you set up such a stall in the food building, or just outside, or anywhere on the grounds really, you would be rich so fast. Feeling sick I still had to bike home, in the dark, on my crappy bike, along the poorly lit bike path. I barely made it home.
For the next trip, yep I am going once more to the CNE I have some very specific foods in mind that I would like to eat. Given that this will be my last trip there, until next year when I inevitably go back. I am going to find those damn nanaimo bars, in the event that I do not I will go for the smores (which had been my back up last time, and also were nowhere to be found). Why am I going after something I could not find in the course of two trips? Because I did some internet searching (thanks Google!) and found out where they are hiding. The smores are in the food building at the stall that sells deep-fried Cola and Pop-tarts, even though by my recollection I saw no such thing on the menu. But it was in an interview with the stall owner, so how could it possibly be wrong?! Obviously I cannot subsist simply on deep-fried dessert and still feeling sick, I doubt I will go for the Krispy Kreme burger. So what is left? Haggis pies from the British food stall. Because we all know how delicious (!!) British cuisine is. I figure it is going to be a long, long time before I manage to make my way across the ocean to try some real proper haggis (and for that matter, a deep-fried Mars bar, but on that I can hold out) I may as well try it. That, or a foot long hot dog. But the foot long I would like to eat at Coney Island and a New York trip is more likely to happen sooner than the UK one.
Having now made myself really hungry, I am going to go eat more cold pizza while moaning about the fact that Thank God the CNE only comes once a year. Maybe I will call them and ask about the nanaimos? This isn’t over.