Or as it's known locally, the State Fair of Texas.
My blood is still pumping cooking oil.
The State Fair of Texas is an annual institution not to be missed in these parts, and I knew that it would likely be my only opportunity to get to see it given that this time next year I will be in Milan as part of the MA/MBA program. So yesterday I along with my fellow MBA students Meredith and Noël went and checked it out.
State fairs are much like the Royal Shows in Australia, so the basic concept was familiar – carnival rides, agricultural displays (and their attendant, ahem, smells) and seething hordes of people. But the Texas version of it is famous for its food, which comes in two forms:
Now admittedly, fried food is a staple of any show (speaking as a person who worked a Dagwood Dog van at a Summernats one year – hey, I was young, I needed the money), but the Texans decided some time ago that instead of the usual fare, they would provide all sorts of culinary delicacies for the crowds. And by culinary delicacies I mean the innovative and curious attempts to deep fry all manner of foodstuffs, no matter how outlandish the results.
It was definitely a good idea for us to go as a group, as it meant that we could share the food and try a lot more of what was on offer. What we didn’t bank on were the queues. Even just driving to Fair Park (a mere 3 miles from my apartment) took over an hour because of the traffic.
Then there were the queues for the parking lot. Then the queues for the tickets to get in. Then the queues for the coupons that you use to pay for food and drinks. Then there were the queues for the food and drink itself, which in one case took over half an hour.
I actually managed to queue for, buy, and imbibe two beers in the time it took for Noël to get to the front of that particular queue. I’m sure if it were possible to have a queue for queuing, they’d work it into the mix (and charge good money/coupons for it).
It was all rather Dante-esque, in the sense that I am sure that one of the tortures of hell will be standing in a queue for eternity. However, it was (kind of) worth it for all the food. The gallery of photos (below) gives a run down of all the foods we tried.
By far, the best food we tried (in my opinion) was chicken-fried bacon. You heard right, bacon covered in fried chicken coating, then deep fried until super crispy. Bacon’s pretty awesome to begin with, but these guys went and took it to a whole new level. It was simultaneously insane and mind-blowing. Oh, and disgustingly greasy, but you get over that.
An honourable mention goes to the deep-fried Cuban roll (kind of like a spring roll but with ham, roast pork, pickles and cheese), which was tasty enough to be something worth selling as regular food. It won the award for best tasting fried food this year (yes, there is an award, and it’s taken VERY seriously).
The sweet food winner out of the lot was the deep fried S’mores. For the non-Americans, a S’more is a dessert made of marshmallow and chocolate sandwiched between two cookies, which is already sweet and unhealthy on its own, but cover it in batter, deep fry it and then powder it with sugar and you’ve got a heartstoppingly sweet and tasty dessert.
But all that deep fried food took its toll, and by the end we were exhausted and stuffed. We all struggled with each bite, the oily sweetness crawling through our veins.
It didn’t help that we saved the most indulgent and decadent food until last, deep fried cookie dough (better described as pure sugary death with occasional pecans).
Even today I am still physically recovering from the experience.
I have to say though, that there was one thing missing from the fair that is a staple of the Australian shows, and gave me some mild culture shock.
None, nothing. Not a Bertie Beetle in sight. I guess I had just assumed that they’d be there, laden with cheap candy, crappy toys and those stupid oversized inflatable hammers that tear apart after three hits. If I were a more enterprising man I’d be setting up a business right away.
Maybe I can pitch it once I’ve got my MBA. Speaking of which, it’s time to get back to study. My brother is visiting from Australia this week, and I’ve got to get ahead on my reading.
I could use some more of that bacon though… you know, study food and all…
Gallery: Deep-fried Everything
Observations on music, coffee, and the occasional controversial thought.
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