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Monday, February 28, 2005

From the Blossom Comes the Nut

The day Bruce and I made linguica was also the day of the Almond Blossom Festival. Every year, the town of Ripon has this festival which consists of a parade and a carnival, and every year we all gather at Aunt Paula's for fun, food, and family. The festival is to celebrate the blossoming of the almond trees that blanket the area like snow and reek havoc on the allergies of thousands of people. A float in one year's parade summed it all up in one phrase: "From the Blossom, Comes the Nut". And that's about as exciting as it gets. Of course, we always have a blast at Aunt Paula's.

Snow? Look Closer.

The parade is a lot of fun to watch too, but not in the way the Chinese New Year Parade or the Gay Pride Parade is fun. Oh lord, nothing like that! Think more like the winners of the Christian schools' beauty pagents riding on top of the back seat of a cheesy convertible, purebred show horses, Shriners in go-carts, shameless corporate promoters, numerous pimply-faced ROTC cadets and out-of-tune marching bands, the town's librarians, the mobile County Jail bus, and the PT Cruiser contingent. The crowd ranges from weekend warrior motorcyclists, to bubbas, to soccer moms, to old duffers, to hordes of teenagers. Mix in with this your good ol' fashioned carnies and drunks, Mormon missionaries and dunkards, and really crappy "craft" booths, and you've got yourself a festival. Like all small-town American carnivals, this one is dominated by perhaps the evilest food combos one can imagine, with fried this and chocolate dipped that. You want fusion? This is con-fusion. Sugar, salt, grease bombs that were, without a doubt, born to complement whirling, nauseating rides with seizure-inducing strobe lights and loud top 40 rock. Greasy and fried, like the carny who's about take your life into his drug-addled hands on a twirling vomit machine that hasn't been serviced since your sister had feathered hair.

Forget the rides; very few of us brave the food booths. Last year I braved the mechanical bull and was sore for two days. This year, I braved Aunt Carol's strawberry funnel cake, smoothered in whip cream, chocolate syrup, and powdered sugar. I'm still waiting for the aftershock.

Funnel Cake Of Death

In keeping with food as a hallucinatory, mind altering substance, lemonade was being sold by elementary school children in what were very clearly designed plastic bongs, sans pipe. All of a sudden, this sleepy little town festival turned into the Grateful Dead parking lot. I've seen crack heads more discrete than this! Lemonade? Oh really? More like Mellow Yellow! I know where you're coming from you 8 year old pusher!

Bong Fest

Away from Burning Man and back to Aunt Paula's for some real food. Granted, nothing's fancy. Nothing's gourmet. In fact, isn't that what you expect from family events? Yet everything was good and homemade. For instance, there is Karen's cheese ball. Yum! They're so good, she has to make extra for Bruce and I. Then there's Mark and Rodger's spicy dilled beans; so garlicy and hot that they're more addictive than bongs full of lemonade. And this year we had a special treat as Jennifer, a budding cook, made superb Parmesan cheese crackers that would've gone great with smoked fish, fruit, or in a salad.

Half-eaten cheese crackers, half-eaten cheese ball, half-eaten dilled beans

Of course, there are the standards of potato salad, ham sandwiches, and chips. But come on, this is a family get together in a garage on a Saturday afternoon! You don't have to go all Martha, though Ripon does have its share of ex-felons. You just have to go easy. And that describes the Ripon Almond Blossom Festival at Aunt Paula's in a nutshell.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stumbled in when looking up Almond Blossom Run info. You have a knack for the descriptive. Thanks for putting a smile in my morning

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow... as a life-long Riponite, that was just absolutely hilarious and right on!

I'll be on the lookout for the bong-toting San Franciscans next month!

6:43 PM  

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