Canadian culture at the CNE

31 Aug

From the sublime (Spadina Museum) to the surreal…… Yesterday night Henry and I headed off to the Canadian National Exhibition (otherwise known as the CNE or the Ex) with Ryan, a friend from Oxford who now teaches at York University.  It was a extraordinary experience from start to finish; a sorted of pumped up, north american version of a county show, complete with 100s of children’s rides and fairground stalls, the ubiquitous military presence (tanks and planes for boys, big and small, to climb in), farm animals, and horticultural competitions but in truly west Atlantic style.  One of the strangest, almost dream like, elements was the At Home Pavilion which was like a live version of the Shopping Channel; I have never seen such a disparate group of products on offer; plasma televisions next to baby grand pianos, roof insulation next to homemade jewellery, while round the corner a hypnotically compelling salesman persuaded people to part with $19.95 for two Sweepa rubber kitchen brushes?


The fairground at CNE – I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many stalls offering you the chance to win an oversized soft toy banana or giant care bear.
But of all the CNE the prize for bizarre ingenuity had to go to the Food Building where the vendors were clearly vying with each other to produce the craziest dish imaginable.  The building was filled with something like a 100 stalls offering foods from all corners of the world from Russian perogi to Jamaican chicken.  So far so normal, a culinary melting pot with more than its fair share of hot dogs, pizza and waffles.  But looking more closely the truly extraordinary, highly calorific, hybrid savoury sweet dishes began to distinguish themselves from their more mundane neighbours.  Colossal deep fried onions, bacon wrapped deep fried Mars bars, red velvet pancakes with pulled pork drenched in jack Daniels infused syrup, hot dog eclairs, how do people come up with these things?!


The Colossal Onion stall ……


….and the colossal onion itself!


Any ideas I had that Glasgow was the home of the deep fried mars bar are now well and truly dispelled.


Truly bizarre – the hot dog eclair, which I’m relieved to say we didn’t try


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