As Miamians, this time of year can be a little tough. Thanks to our balmy weather and eternal sunshine, seasonal spirit can be hard to come by. So like good little elves, locals flock to Santa's Enchanted Forest to bask in some semblance of holiday cheer.
Dubbed the world's largest Christmas theme park, the spot has been inspiring intense emotions amongst locals for 30 years. But whether you love it or hate it - you can't deny that it's as Christmasey as our city gets.
Locals will espouse various reasons for their annual attendance -- the wild animal shows, the carnival rides, the twinkly lights, etc.
But you're a Short Order reader, so we know the real reason you shell out the admission fee, endure screaming children and hike five miles from the parking lot: the eats. While it may be greasy, overpriced and hopelessly messy - carnival food is also undeniably delicious.
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So since it's the season for overindulgence, we thought we'd offer a little instruction on what to eat during your annual pilgrimage to Miami's little Santaland. Worry about the calories in 2013.
Arepas At any carnival south of the 305, you'd be pretty hard pressed to find these tasty little corn and cheese treats. So, when in Rome (or Miami), eat up. Roasted Corn A street food tradition, fresh, fire roasted corn drenched in melted butter is probably the healthiest thing you'll find at the forest. Watch 'em do the dunking, then gnaw away at your ear, Mike Tyson-style. Chicharonnes While fried pork skin might induce nausea in some, for others, it's a little piece of piggie heaven. And since this is your chance to eat all things deep fried, might as well add pig skins to the lineup. Colada Because you need the caffeine to get you through an entire evening of carnival rides and Christmas music. And kids. So many kids. Elephant Ears Call 'em elephant ears, fried dough or frying saucers, their inherent simplicity is a thing of beauty. It's dough. It's fried. It's sugared. And it's perfect. Donuts According to Homer Simpson, there's nothing donuts can't do. We might agree. And for $6, you can score 29 hot, homemade rings of joy. They fry 'em right in front of you, while you watch, mouth-a-watering. Fried Candy Bars If you haven't experienced a fried candy bar, treat your taste buds to one. Everyone loves candy, but dip it in batter and deep fry it and you've added unimaginable layers of additional deliciousness. Do it. We recommend Snickers, but they've got Kit Kats and Milky Ways, to boot. Pan con Bistec (or Lechon) Why settle for plain pizza or boring burgers when Latin eats are available? Sonia's serves up Pan con Bistec, Pan con Lechon and Cuban sammies for those who want something a little more local than the usual suspects. Ribbon Fries Potatoes might be the perfect food. Scalloped, mashed, baked - any way you do 'em, they're delicious. But fried is by far the best. And ribbon fries are even better than the standard sort. Essentially, they're a giant, swirly stack of fries, topped with (optional) ranch, bacon or cheese. Yes, please. Turkey Legs Turkey legs are the ultimate in extreme fair foods, because everyone wants to unleash that inner barbarian once in awhile. Finish the whole damn thing, and earn the title of honorary caveman.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.