Fried indulgences

Fairgoers know that high-calorie treats aren't healthy, but what the heck, many think.

July 21, 2010|By Tom Ragan,
  • Bill Nolasto and a deep fried sausage he ate at the Heart Attack Cafe at the OC Fair. Even though he is diabetic, Nolasto says he has no problem eating the crazy fried food.
Bill Nolasto and a deep fried sausage he ate at the Heart… (Don Leach, Daily…)

COSTA MESA — The way Jim Volz sees it, it's either in the genes or it isn't. It's all one big roll of the familial dice.

High cholesterol runs in his family. Even though his mother ate well all her life, she has to take pills for it. So on Wednesday, in a damned if I do, damned if I don't fashion, Volz ate a few fried cinnamon crisps and dipped a few fried chips into some garlic sauce before handing over the orders to his grandchildren, who gathered like a pack of hungry wolves.

It was a purchase Volz made at The Heart Attack Café, a colorful stand at the Orange County Fair where hundreds of fairgoers have been gravitating toward, if not salivating before, since opening day.

"My doctor looked at me and laughed the last time he saw me," said Volz, his head tilted back as he dropped the chips into his mouth. "He was, like, 'What have you been eating?' I think my cholesterol was 300 and something."


But then Volz qualified his actions: "Hey, man, that's what the fair's all about, isn't it? It's for eating"

"And the rides!" quipped his granddaughter Alyssa Simmons, 9.

If it's any consolation to those carefully watching their diets and counting their calories, Volz, of Glendora, said he takes medication for high cholesterol. He also clarified that it's not often that he indulges in fried foods.

What's more, would you believe that what he ordered at The Heart Attack Café was minor — at least on the Richter scale as far as the menu was concerned?

At the café, there's all sorts of major artery-blocking items, including deep-fried butter and deep-fried, chocolate-covered bacon.

And if that's not enough, there's always the sausage on a stick – after it's been dipped in pancake dough and fried, says Damian Diaz, one of the cooks inside the café.

"It's not that good for you, I'll admit that much," Diaz said between orders. "But it tastes very, very good."

But the health effects can be anything but.

According to Cynthia Stamper Graff, author of three bestselling diet books and president of Lindora Medical Clinics based in Costa Mesa, an order of deep fried butter has 443 calories and 38.5 grams of fat.

"To work it off," says Stamper Graff, "you'd have to stay on the Stairmaster for one hour."

As for the chocolate-covered bacon, it's 638 calories and 41 grams of fat, and it would take at least 2 1/2 hours on the Stairmaster to come out equal.

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