Faking Food Festivals

Photo Credits: Bill Whitmire and KingT

Sometimes, when the man you love is looking you in the eyes with earnestly hopeful expectation, you just have to fake it. In the long run, occasionally putting his feelings first in such intimate moments can spare you stress and him insecurity until things are right again. Sadly, I’ve been faking it all summer, and I can’t do it anymore. I just cannot go to another food festival.

My breaking point was Taste of Melrose Labor Day weekend. We went last year and were not overly impressed and figured, “Okay, we’ve done this once and don’t have to go again.” But when my husband started thinking about the tennis-ball size arancini lightly topped with homemade marinara sauce after his barber brought up the festival at the beginning of August, it was added to our Google calendar. And became a topic of conversation for weeks. There was no getting out of it.

I spent the morning hunched over in the bathroom with my morning sickness (which is still hanging around despite it being my seventh month of pregnancy!) and dreading the cloud of garlic that I would be soon walking into. With my first child, meat was not my friend; I may have gone nine months without eating chicken. With this baby I cannot handle garlic or onions, typically staples in our house, and this has made going out to eat a challenge. The idea of fried food, as with my previous pregnancy, does not sit well right now. So while I was psyching myself up for the last food festival of the summer I also knew I was walking into the trifecta of things that make me sick. I had to tell him.

At the point of tears a few blocks from parking I blurted out, “That’s it, this is the last one. I can’t do anymore food festivals!”

“Do you not want to go?” (I knew he would offer this as an option, which is why I waited until we were almost there to say it.)

“No, we can go, but this is the last one.”

And so we went. And the arancini were even better than last year – so good, in fact, we went back for seconds, though that was also partly due to our toddler inhaling almost an entire rice, cheese and meatball himself. The fried food even made me feel better that day, which was in line with an odd recommendation from certain medical professionals who told me to “eat like you’re hungover” when I was feeling sick.

Now the trick will be figuring out how to get out of the next two food festivals that have popped up on our calendar: the Chipotle Cultivate Festival and OakToberfest in Oak Park. Somehow I think I’ll end up going “for the children” (or rather, for the child, as we still only have one) because there will be grilled corn and that is, after all, one of our son’s favorite foods…

I suppose the summer of food festivals would be even more of a challenge if I were trying to lose weight. Stay tuned for next summer’s column: Trying to Lose Weight While Going to Food Festivals.