*Read about Day Two here.
*Then read about Day Three here.
To me, the State Fair rivals sex, strong drinks, and Law and Order: SVU reruns. And I love fornicating almost as much as I love watching TV.
Walking into the State Fair, the guy who took my ticket told me to "enjoy something on a stick!" I told him I would. Oh, yes I would. Because everyone knows, the fair is proof you can never go wrong deep-frying anything and putting it on-a-stick. I’d eat Jerry Orbach‘s eye if you battered it, and served it in stick-form.
Thanks to reader request, (and my own desire to eat as much at the fair as possible), I’ve compiled a list of day-one, stick-samplings. Sad to say, I made some disappointing choices. Keep reading to spare yourself the same fate.
Deep Fried Twinkie (on-a-stick, with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce, $3.00)
Sweet lord this is good. I honestly expected it to suck. I hate Twinkies. I don’t like cheap, chocolate syrup. This dish relied heavily on both. But this is going-back-for-seconds good. The crust is crispy, but it doesn’t taste overly deep-fried. The insides are light, and moist. This is one of those easy to miss fair foods, that definitely shouldn’t be.
Hotdish on-a-stick ($4.00)
I can almost smell the Lutherans, church basement coffee, and silent rage informing each bite. I wanted it to included noodles and sauce somehow, but overall, hotdish on-a-stick delivers. I suppose you can never go wrong kabobing Hormel meatballs and tater-tots, deep-frying, and serving with a hefty side of white, gelatinous, mushroom gravy.
Alligator on-a-stick ($3.50)
Don’t bother. It tastes like the bottom of a shoe, and it looks like a skinny, crooked penis. Also, it isn’t fried. I just assume that if it’s on a stick, it’s fried. Rookie mistake. If you’re going to eat alligator, get the nibbles. They fry those, I think.
The best thing about the alligator on-a-stick is it’s proximity to the Big Yellow Slide, ($2.00). This slide is pure childhood nostalgia for me. Speaking of kids, some vendor is responsible for doing small girls’ hair in a style I can only describe as a cotton candy explosion on top of the head. I saw all these little girls running around with mushroom-cloud-shaped pink and blue, and yellow do’s. Their hair is sparkly, and bright, and kind of amazing looking.
Pig Lickers (chocolate covered bacon, not on-a-stick, $5.00)
These blew. I’m sorry, I mean, I wanted to like the pig lickers, I really did, if for no reason other than they’re called pig lickers.
Besides, I love it when there’s a new food at the fair. It’s exciting. I remember the year everyone was abuzz over fried green tomatoes. Then alligator was the ‘it’ food. Everyone’s running around like, "Did you try alligator?" "I tried alligator."
But I can’t fake the love, and the pig lickers were not cool. Was it my fault for picturing bubbling vats of rich, dark, chocolate and tall, handsome, blonde men wearing little vests, dipping hefty hunks of bacon in chocolate, before my very eyes? Because this was my idea of how I’d be served my pig licker.
I’m willing to entertain that I’m to blame for my disappointment. But here’s what went down: five dollars later, I get four waif-like pieces of (cold) bacon, half-dipped in chocolate, and bejeweled with big hunks of sea salt. I’m still thinking, well, maybe they taste awesome. Quality over quantity, like saffron. Nope. They tasted gross. The bacon was greasy. The chocolate was dry and chipped. Then there’s the matter of the sea salt. Why add sea salt to bacon? To look fancy? I think they added that salt to look fancy. Because think about it, it’s bacon.
Final thoughts: Tasted like someone put a piece of cold, bacon in the remains of a ice cream sundae, and they formed a union in the sun, next to the sink.
Macaroni and Cheese on-a-stick ($3.00)
Good, but a bit overcooked. For three bucks, I got five little macaroni and cheese balls. Sort of looked like chicken nuggets. They were hard to eat on the stick, too. You had to pick them off and use your hands. Then your fingers got greasy. I’m a big believer that if you’re going to put something on a stick, it should be easy to eat while still on the stick. Honestly, these little nuggets are a bunch of cheese curd posers. You’re better off sticking to the original.
Pronto Pup ($3.50)
I hate corn dogs. I honestly do. I think they’re boring and stupid. But, they are a state fair classic, so I had to. The Pronto Pups have a delicate, crispy breading that surrounds the perfectly hot, but not scalding dog. Though I’m not a true fan, I’ve got to give it to the Pronto Pup folks, they do know how to make a damn classic corn dog.
Fun (not-on-a) Stick
I felt complete Princess Kay of the Milky Way envy. Butter makes hair look luscious and thick. A huddle of teenage farm girls in the pig barn said my outfit was, "really cute." I saw a kid almost hurl in front of the unlimited glass of milk booth, (fitting). Overheard a young boy ask a woman working the Miracle of Life Exhibit (where the animal birthing happens), how bloody giving birth is – awesome question.
Though not on a stick, I also enjoyed a root beer float, two beers, and cheese curds. Then there was the horse with a boner, the polka band, the very large, middle-aged lady, in some very-small, spandex shorts, spread-eagle on a bench in front of the Baa Barn. Then there were the three tan, twenty-something farm boys walking by, drinking beers, who said, "Damn, son, I want a picture of that for my dorm room." And I wanted her picture, too. But not for my dorm, and not to poke fun. This lady was the single-greatest visual display of: "Oh, fuck it. I’m hot as hell, and I don’t care if my crotch is showing." I admired the sentiment. Day one at the Great Minnesota Get-Together? Worth every pound I’ve undoubtedly gained.
So, what should I do today? I’m thinking Ye Old Mill, Leprechaun Legs (lightly battered, deep-fried green beans with dipping sauce), and a Pickle Pop (pickle juice frozen in a plastic push-up sleeve), are in order.