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Nina In New York: An Urban Exploration Of My Local Street Fair. It Was Fair.

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(credit: The Weblicist/theweblicist.com)

(credit: The Weblicist/theweblicist.com)

A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
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By Nina Pajak

Street fair season is upon us!

Every year I get all excited and take every opportunity I can to walk through my neighborhood street fairs. And that’s exactly all I do: walk through it. I don’t buy anything, I don’t eat anything, I don’t subscribe to the New York Times or take a free stress ball from the yoga studio down the block. I once came close to purchasing a bonsai tree for my husband but was so shocked at the price of bonsai trees that I walked away empty-handed.

See Also: NYC’s Best Fair Food

It’s not that things don’t look appealing to me. But something always prevents me from committing beyond consuming with my eyes. Perhaps it’s the practically visible caloric content of the food or the fact that, in aggregate, everything for sale looks like what will ultimately become clutter I don’t need in my apartment. Well, not this summer. I am a newly-motivated urban explorer! Super new. Like, as of yesterday! This seemed like a pretty easy feat for starters. Sally forth and tally ho and bring on the mozzarepas.

So, this weekend I made a plan with some friends to buy up a mess of food from our first official street fair and then take it to go to eat on their roof. We were directionless, unfocused and hungry, so we wound up buying an incredibly bizarre menu, on which I will report:

Mozzarepas: I have long been salivating over this confounding item. It looked simultaneously incredibly fattening and appealing and sort of unappetizing. It seemed like the sort of item I would never give myself the opportunity to sample. My friends were skeptical, but I was firm. I had no idea whether it would be great or terrible, but I had to give it a shot. The result? It tasted like melted mozzarella between two corn Thomas’s Toast-R-Cakes. In other words, delicious. The question is, where are the mozzarepa people during the week? Is there a mozzarepa stand somewhere in the city that is open all the time? Do they exist in the winter? How do they duplicate themselves so consistently throughout the city during street fair season? The mystery deepens.

Kebab: It tasted like a slightly overcooked kebab. The important thing is, one kebab with pita and some lettucey junk costs $8. Four chunks of meat glued to a stick and drizzled in white sauce = $8. What is this, Yankee Stadium? Lose.

$1 Thai food: Actually, we got the $4 pad Thai and it tasted like $4 pad Thai. Unlike the kebab stand, you get what you pay for here, and that’s the best part about it. I recommend consuming this with the safety of your home toilet nearby.

Corn on the cob: Slathered with all sorts of flavored butter which comes in unmarked squeeze bottles and roasted to perfection. Walking around with corn on a stick and grease and niblets all over your face just says summer to me, and this fits the bill. If I ever buy anything at a street fair again, this is at the top of my list. (Ew, I said “niblets”).

Barbecue! This was actually a stand from an independent catering business/restaurant, and I tragically lost the card they slipped in with our sandwiches. Nothing like the slick syndication of the mozzarepa people, these guys had set up shop and been smoking their meat for something like twelve hours. It showed. (See also: NYC’s Best BBQ)

It’s possible we got some other stuff, but after this motley array of fair fare (get it? wordplay!), I slipped into a food coma and anything I ate thereafter has been wiped from my consciousness. I don’t know if there will be a repeat performance, but I’m glad I tried it once. It’s time to move on! Next time the fair comes to my block, I’m totally checking out the sound-activated LED t-shirt booth. That seems perhaps the worthiest of street purchases.

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Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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