Working at the State Fair and Pita Gourmet

The other day, I was absolutely craving a pita filled with sliced cucumbers, bacon, and garlic-sour cream dressing. Oh my god, that is such a fantastic combination.

When I was younger, I used to work at the MN State Fair. For several years, I worked for Pita Gourmet, which was run by family friends. I never actually worked in the stand selling food, but I made the food. We worked in a kitchen at “the ice house,” the office for Gopher State Ice Co — Larry Abdo in charge of Golfer State Ice and the ice boys, and his wife Carol in charge of Pita Gourmet and the pita girls. 

It was great; it really was. There was, in many ways, a very family-like atmosphere there — largely because so many people there were family: all of the Abdo boys were ice boys, and the only Abdo daughter helped run Pita Gourmet. My brother was one of the ice guys for many years, actually — he was very proud of being one of them.

I, on the other hand, took pride in the food we produced, making it in 20-pound quantities, measuring spices using half- and quarter-cup measurements, not table- or teaspoons. Looking back, I suppose you could view it in a gendered way (the “men” schlepping ice; the “women” in the kitchen), but it never really felt that way. Besides, I was only thirteen or so, and it felt like we had the better end of the deal: the ice guys had to bring ice all over the fair, out under the blazing sun — not my idea of fun. I, on the other hand, felt incredibly competent and adult, with the big knives we wielded for chopping vegetables and the huge pans of food we hefted. Going behind the Haunted Mansion at the beginning of my day, and running around the fair over my lunch break, I felt like I belonged. I wasn’t just some tourist at the Fair. I had a glorious time.

I have a special memory of the Sundays — the woman for whom I worked directly (she was a niece of the Abdos, I believe) would make enormous pans of scrambled eggs and bacon to be shared with the ice guys. I usually forwent the eggs (I’m very picky about my scrambled eggs), but I made the most fantastic sandwich. The warm pita, the smoky bacon, the crispness of the cucumber, the garlicky creaminess of the sour cream sauce (generally used for one of the pitas) — it was an unbeatable combination.

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One response to “Working at the State Fair and Pita Gourmet

  1. Pingback: Working for Sweet Martha | Beyond Bryn Mawr

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