Rumspringa is the time in the Amish culture when the youth may choose to separate themselves from the community for a period in order to confirm they are ready for a lifetime of commitment to Amish tradition.  Some go to live among the “English”(non-Amish North Americans), experiencing modern technology and perhaps even experimenting with sex, alcohol and illegal drugs. Once this period of experimentation they may return home (and the vast majority do) for baptism into the Amish church and commence their adult lives with full celebration of the traditions and beliefs of their culture.

And what the hell does this have to do with me, you may ask?

For the most part I adhere to a rather strong if unspoken code of behavior in my life.  Not guided by religion it is more a commitment to my own intellectual and experiential growth as well as to a lifestyle dictated largely by healthy eating and plenty of exercise.  Until August 17th through September 3rd, when the Canadian National Exhibition rolls into town and any semblance of restraint (dietary or otherwise) goes straight out the window, into the deep fryer, and on to my plate.

The CNE experience is kicked up a notch by the fact that my friend Jennifer sits on the board so not only do I get a free pass (through the gates, not by any nutritionist on the planet) but I also get a really cool insight into the things that happen on the sidelines that one might be apt to miss.  Like the enormous butter sculpture of Rob Ford reading a Margaret Atwood novel, the best fudge purveyor on the grounds or the specific location of the Harley Davidson boot outlet.  I had dropped by on the weekend with Jen and casually shared a pulled pork sandwich on a red velvet cupcake “bun” with maple syrup, which was a horrifying creation.  The red velvet pancake was NOT a chocolate item but rather a regular pancake dyed a lurid shade of neon orange which gave me a headache for two days.


Undaunted, I vowed to return and see what  gustatory boundaries were being challenged in earnest.

Enter Kim, who has hitherto proven her courage by walking around the edge of the CN Tower.  This may have proved to be a bigger challenge.

We decided to try and follow a traditional meal pattern, starting with an appetizer, a full meal, a side and then several hundred desserts.

East met West with a pair of tacos – the first was kalbi (BBQ Korean beef) the second fish with kimchi and carrots and sauce in a fresh taco shell.  Both quite delicious, and unnervingly almost healthy tasting.


Determining that healthy tasting could devolve into a dangerous trend, we followed the tacos with a side of deep fried dill pickle on a stick and a delightful shepherd’s pie in a bread cone.


The pickle came from a separate establishment than the cone and I was amused to see the following sign.  A sad state of affairs when one has to create a special sign for your “healthy” option.  Sadder still when it is a roast beef sandwich on a white burger bun.

Dessert #1 was a conceptual mind bender:

Bacon wrapped deep fried Mars Bar with bacon topping and a duo of caramel and chocolate sauces.  My arteries hardened just writing that.

Kim and I decided to take a well deserved break and Jen led us on a brief tour through the Arts & Crafts building, home of the aforementioned best fudge on the grounds.  I am delighted to report I restrained myself (Ha!) and bought nothing.  Kim however left with some pumpkin pie and key lime pie chunks and really as I had about a quarter pound of samples I should not be so bold as to bandy the word “restraint” around unless I am planning to chain myself to a chair so as not to run back tomorrow and buy my own.

After walking around for at least seven minutes and thereby justifying the purchase of a fortifying snack we split a lovely deep fried peanut butter and jam sandwich, which I am sad to report was alarmingly delicious.


Sated, salted and sticky we made our way home.  It was a fun day and I suspect I will not have to eat again for a week.  I am trying to ignore the fact that Jen has generously shared a couple of passes so I can return to haunt the fudge hut at any time for the next 10 days.  After that I will have a ritual cleansing and will try and reintegrate amongst my people with a dab of caramel sauce on my chin and sugary visions in the clouds of my memory.

Some other options, should you choose to Rumspringa (which sounds like a frothy booze drink one might pair with some chocolate covered bacon) down at the Fair.




2 Responses to “Rumspringa”

  1. Jennifer Ward says:


  2. Noelle Jenkinson says:

    Oh, they’ve come a long way since the simple offerings of a corn dog, perogies and tiny tom donuts!!

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