Every year for the local Fall Fair I spend a day demonstrating fibre arts. It's a whole day surrounded by excited people, barns full of animals, colourful exhibits, the sound of fair rides, and the smells of food stalls.
It always starts with the smell of frying onions, about 10 o'clock in the morning. The international food stands arrive first, as most of their cooking is from scratch on site, with a few dishes made the night before at home.
Next is the smell of things frying in oil, I know the more 'traditional' - or should I say more modern - cooking has arrived. Frozen food heated in deep oil, or sometimes fresh food heated in deep oil like my favourite smell, the doughnut stand. He has a gooey mess of fresh batter and this antiquated machine that transforms gooey mess into fried mini doughnuts, for sale by the half dozen. Sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
Then the smell of spices compete with the smell of charred meats on the BBQ. A deep breath and I can just about feel the crunch of the grilled Bratwurst break open in my teeth, the juices running down my chin, the toasted bun sopping up the juices, and the sauerkraut....mmmm, sauerkraut on hotdog!
All these wonderful smells are pure torture for someone with food allergies and sensitivities. There are days when I would rather have my toenails pulled out with a pair of pliers than to have to walk through a food court - especially one with good quality, freshly made food like the stalls at the Fall Fair.
The only way to tolerate this torturous tantalization is to bring a lunch just as delicious as anything that can be bought at the fair.
This is a three layer Bento, well actually a Tiffin container from India. Bottom layer contained rice, ume, and a cute little chicken container filled with Spicy Rooster (I don't know what it's actually called, but it has a picture of a rooster on the bottle and is exceptionally spicy) sauce. The next layer, some boiled broccoli, a cherry tomato from the garden, and chicken Kara Age. The chicken is marinaded over night, coated in cornstarch, fried in about half an inch of oil, then marinated again. It's exceptionally yummy!
The top layer is fruit: Apples, grapes, and a selection of cheese.
Everything except for the fruit layer, is packed hot and allowed to cool - this way the moisture can evaporate and the lunch will keep from spoiling in hot weather. Of course, the chicken always gets eaten first, as it is so delicious.
Affordability? It's about $1 worth of chicken plus everything else, I would say about $2 for the entire lunch. Maybe less if you can find some of the items on sale. All in all, not too shabby.