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Another day at the fair

FRESNO -- Charlie Boghosian, the deep-fried guy, came back to The Big Fresno Fair.

Remember last year when he unveiled the Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich? The curious combination of sweet and fowl was a tasty attention-getter.

But Boghosian, a gregarious man who loves to talk food, is always experimenting with deep-frying. New items are a must. That's why this year's menu includes -- get ready for it -- deep-fried Pepsi.

And -- I'm not kidding -- deep-fried frogs legs.

Two other new items are a bit less sensational: Deep-fried s'mores and a deep-fried version of Elvis Presley's beloved peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich.

It's all good at his Chicken Charlie's stand. The 38-year-old from San Diego says all the new stuff has been a hit on this season's fair circuit. At other fairs before Fresno, for example, he sold 30,000 cups of the cola concoction, at $5.50 a pop. (He uses the cola brand that is officially affiliated with a fair.)

The Bee spent time with Boghosian on a recent morning, starting with an introduction to deep-fried Pepsi.

"I tell people this Pepsi doesn't need a straw," he says. "It needs a fork."

Instead of water, he mixes Pepsi with flour to make a batter. He randomly pours lines of it into a soybean oil, which he says has zero trans fats and zero carbohydrates.

The lines break into squiggly curlicues, like pieces of a funnel cake, as they quickly turn golden brown.

Boghosian lifts them out and dumps them on a tray. He scoops some into a regular-sized soda-paper cup and adds a bit of soda syrup to enhance the flavor. He sprinkles a bit of powdered sugar, adds a bit of whipped cream and tops it with a cherry. He smiles and asks: "Doesn't it look good?"

Here are other excerpts of the conversation:

Where did this idea come from?

It's not my invention, but the recipe is mine. I actually had deep-fried it at my house, but not commercially. And then somebody beat me kind of to it at another state fair. But I had no idea how they made theirs. I'm a cook. I invent a lot of stuff. I made my own.

Where do you get frogs legs?

Louisiana ... they're really good. I've bought probably all the frogs legs this year in the country. I've been selling an average 100 pounds a day ... people love frogs legs. It tastes like 80 percent chicken and 20 percent fish.

Is there anything you can't fry?

I can fry anything. I can make it work.

What was the one thing you fried and said, 'Oh gosh, this will never sell?'

The Hostess SnoBall. We haven't conquered that yet, but I'm still working on conquering that.

Do you ever go to the doctor?

Yes, my cholesterol is in excellent condition.

Seriously?

Yes, I swear to God. It's excellent. My blood sugar, my cholesterol, my blood pressure. Every year, I go and they tell me it's great ... but I do use zero trans fats, zero carbs and all that.

Boghosian wraps up with a final thought for fairgoers: "It's the fair. One day a year, I think they should eat whatever they want."

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