Not Just Turkey Legs & Wenches! Really, It's Not. The Renaissance Pleasure Faire. Irwindale, CA. LAST WEEKEND! May 21&22.
Get Yer Turkey Legs Here!
I swear, it's not just about turkey legs at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. Okay, I will admit I had some solidly rooted preconceived notions about the Renaissance Fair. Ideas like goofy guys walking around as court jesters, Robin Hood look-alikes, men-in-tights-in-general and women in wench wear baring canyon-esque cleavage.
I imagined enduring tinny harpsichord music thick in the dusty Irwindale air while actors recited Shakespeare on stage as people drinking from de rigeur tankards filled with Bud Light looked on and heckled in fabricated Elizabethan accents.
Alright, so it's all those things, but (I swear on Hamlet's skull) it's so much more too! There is a palpable and contagious sense of community, abandon and pure fun. If you do the Renaissance Pleasure Faire right, you'll do it without self-consciousness and judgment, and that's when the "pleasure" part will kick in big time.
However, being a snobby food lover, my prejudices about the "food" at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire were even more difficult to reconcile. Visions of turkey legs and churros were the only two things frolicking in my head. Oh, sure, there were turkey legs...
Turkey Leg? Yes, please.
...lots of turkey legs!
Me thinks the wench is hungry for thou leg of turkey.
There was no resisting. The free flowing ale only made the stomach yearn turkey leg even more.
Not a pretty sight.
These turkey legs were delicious. Better than any other fairs' turkey legs. Even better than the honkin' ones at Disneyland. Theirs are smoked while these are roasted fresh then grilled before serving. Thus, making the ones at Ren Faire juicier, more tender and less of a sodium bomb.
The meat scepter can do a lot of damage — delicious damage!
Pappy Biggins will hook you up!
And, as I happily experienced, it was not all turkey legs. However, if you needed to wash the taste of turkey out of your mouth in a sweet way, Pappy Biggins will be more than happy to assist you. He'll pour heavy on the mead — a sweet and delicious wine made of honey — to vanquish any gobble left in your gullet.
Puss to eat, my lord?
Not everything edible meant you could eat it, though. There were some colorful purveyors of shock food. Not for sale. More for gawking, really, and making conversation or just a photo op for a Facebook profile pic.
If not puss, how's about my sausage?
I definitely avoided the basket of raw sausage baking in a basket with its hawker trying to avoid the health department official.
Want some head?
Talk about dead head, there probably were a few Grateful Dead fans milling about the faire, but I didn't anticipate a cabeza monger to be strolling the grounds trying to unload a very real and very decapitated pork head. Too bad he didn't take debit cards.
Toad in whose hole?
Although the stand advertised "toad in a hole", it wasn't the genuine English dish. It was actually a very tasty sausage roll. Fried in a nice, flaky pastry casing and filled with well-seasoned pork forcemeat — a type of finely ground, casing-less sausage — this "toad in a hole" was custom made for the faire. May the force meat with you!
In addition to the "toad in a hole", the "Knight's Lance" was a welcome excuse to eat some bacon wrapped asparagus or whatever those green things were.
Wenching her thirst!
Our fair wench, Darien, showed us the ins and outs of navigating the food court as we made royal swine out of ourselves. She even explained how "wench" was not a derogatory term back in the Elizabethan day. Now is a different situation.
Feast of Fowl.
Sometimes you just can't decide between white and dark meat. Well, throw in chicken, duck and quail meat and see the indecisiveness go wild. Or, you can just order the Feast of Fowl, which is chicken leg, duck leg and whole quail. It's not duck, duck, goose here.
Meat pie a la Scots.
One of the best food stands was the Meat Pie stand because of its good selection of meat pies to choose from: steak & mushroom, chicken, cottage, Scottish and shepherd's pie. The Scottish meat pie basically was a flaky over-sized hockey puck stuffed with minced meat seasoned with spices to give it a distinct haggis flavor.
Would you ride a guy named Pony?
The "Pony Ride" was a traumatic experience for me that will require weekly, intense, therapy sessions to erase from memory. I won't say anymore. You'll just have to sit through the Deep End Dining/Trippy Food Photo Podcast below to see for yourself. *sob* Sorry, I just can't bring myself to revisit the "Pony Ride". I need a hug!
WATCH THE PODCAST! Also, THANK YOU, LADY CLINTON! (Sorry to overlook you in credits.)