All in the call

Pub date October 3, 2012
WriterL.E. Leone

CHEAP EATS I won’t sleep in a dead man’s bed, but I will use his razor to shave my sweater.

“She walks like a little farmer,” Hedgehog’s gram told Hedgehog while I was not in the room.

Gram, recently widowed, is in a nursing home in Bloomsburg, PA. We visited every day at least once a day while we were there. We brought her fudge from the fair. We brought her caramel corn, corn, “penny candy,” and a pork sandwich. I did her nails.

Then we went back out to the fair and got her another pork sandwich. Above and beyond the call of grandfilial duty-in-law, I know, but if you saw what they were feeding her for lunch! . . . A sorry looking disk of “Swiss steak,” plop of instant mashed potatoes, and chopped beets that reeked of can.

I’m not bragging. Anyone with half a heart in their chest would have sprinted at the sight of such unsavoriness out into the world for something real. Well, Hedgehog and I have at least two full hearts in our combined chests. Ergo: two pork sandwiches for Gram.

Of course, they don’t call them pork sandwiches in Central Pennsylvania. They are “barbecue.” You can indeed get real barbecue at the Bloomsburg Fair, but those vendors come up from Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and other delicious Points South, trailing their pitched-black smokers. The locals tend to shun these in favor of May’s steam-table-cue: either pulled pork, chipped ham, or shredded chicken on an enriched white bun with sweet relish. And the pork one is awesome, by the way, in spite of its apparent lack of relationship to smoke, or even fire.

But being that as it May’s, the Bloomsburg Fair is my new favorite thing. For the food alone. In a small town where what’s-for-dinner is not always necessarily exciting, I got to get down and greasy with my new favorite hot sausage sandwich, Pennsylvania Dutch chicken-and-waffles, venison jerky, not-bad jambalaya, bad Mongolian barbecue, great American barbecue, smoked turkey legs, wedding soup, potato pancakes, pierogies, hot-off-the-press apple cider, cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, and, of course, funnel cakes.

For four days, the closest we came to anything healthy was fire-roasted sweet corn dipped in butter. The only other way to get vegetables was deep fried. Speaking of which, there was a deep fried Oreo in there somewhere, although I promise I only had one bite — oh, and a deep-fried Snickers bar wrapped in bacon.

That comes with its own whole other story, but I’m not going to tell it because it’s time for:

CHEAP SPORTS (Bloomsburg Fair Edition)

by Hedgehog

On the topic of the replacement refs’ absurd botching of that “Fail Mary” last Monday Night Football: What about the bad pass interference call that set up Green Bay’s TD on the drive previous? The Packers may have been robbed, but it was robbing Peter to pay Paul, way I seen it. Reap what you sow, Green Bay. Not to mention get what you pay for, NFL.

Speaking of questionable calls: the fiddle contest Tuesday night at the fair. The last fiddler was going to obviously take first place because she was an adorable sixth grader who played “Danny Boy” like she had a lilt and washed with Irish Spring. Which would drop the amiable fella with two originals and a twangy rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime” down to Silver. We all agreed: she would win, but he would deserve to.

Sure enough, the cutie took first, but second went to some young buck we didn’t even figure to place. Highway robbery! It was the talk of the entire midway for about a minute. Then, once the formality of the extra point (or in this case, all-star jam of “Orange Blossom Special”) was dispensed with, we all browsed the master pumpkin carver’s work in the farm museum, and it started to seem like a bad dream.

Welcome back, “real” refs!

Cheap Eats continued

Other things we ate included chicken and dumplings (which they call chicken pot pie), and peach pie (which they call peach dumplings). Well, what do you expect from the land where green bell peppers are mangoes, and mangoes are — what, where did you get that?

The reasons I walk like a little farmer, Gram, are twofold. One, I am bow-legged. I don’t know why. I only rode a horse once in my life. And, two, I am a little farmer.