• Adventures in Indiana State Fair Food 2014

    I’ve done this enough that friends have sometimes asked if they could accompany us on our yearly adventure. Two families were supposed to join us, but they both bailed at the last second. Cowards! Well, maybe not, but it makes for better theater. It’s August. It’s Indiana. It’s time for some state fair food!

    For those of you who are joining us for the first time, I am not a Midwesterner by birth. Growing up in Philadelphia, seeing a goat grazing, or corn growing in a field required a field trip. Not it’s just down the street. I’d never been to a state fair before moving here, and I was really averse to going.

    Then I found out about the food.

    Some people go for the “rides”. I laugh at them. Some go for the “games”. I don’t understand paying $10 for a chance to win a half-dead goldfish in a bag. Some go for the “shows”. They’re lost on me. We go for food. And then I tell you all about it.

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    As always, my kids are your guides. We are very healthy eaters in general, but all rules are broken on State Fair Day. The word “no” becomes almost verbotten. My wife, also as always, refuses to be photographed. That doesn’t mean she didn’t eat. If she tells you that, she’s lying. Let’s begin.

    Usually, “Dr. Vegetable” is the first truck we see on entrance, but the “Outlaw Fries” people worked really hard to distract me. They succeeded. What makes Fries “Outlaw”? Evidently, you cover them with cheese, bacon, sour cream, and chives. Bear in mind, we haven’t even entered the fair proper yet. This is the food you see while trying to get in. But why get the outlaw fries alone, when you can get them as part of a combo platter?

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    That adds fried jalapenos, fried pickles, and fried onion strings to the plate. You also get some spicy dipping sauce for the onion strings, and some ranch dressing for the pickles. The whole thing is only $19. Nineteen dollars! The heartburn is free.

    The most bizarre thing is that literally across from this madness is a pole vault setup, where athletes were staging some sort of competition all day. I don’t think you can eat the combo platter and ever do a pole vault again in your life.

    Speaking of Dr. Vegetable, he added some new vegetables to his fried up awesomeness:

    StateFair2014-3Corn dogs are now evidently in the “vegetable” family. It was only a matter of time.

    Fans of the blog know that Noah is very serious about his doughnut burger. But there were some new additions to the burger cart:

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    The “Redneck Burger” adds potato sticks, baked beans, and fried bologna to your meat. The mac and cheese one is self-explanatory. Neither is sane. But Noah defied expectations and chose for us an “ice cream burger”:

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    It’s a bacon cheeseburger, topped with vanilla ice cream that’s been covered in crumbled cookies. Like any good Hoosier, Noah eschewed the optional vegetable fixins. The bacon was acceptable, though. This was… disturbingly delicious.

    Every year, the state fair labels one product their “Signature Food Item”. I imagine it’s something that they think all Hoosiers can be proud of. This year’s winner?

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    Cheeseburger Basket on a Stick. Let’s break this down. First of all, the fact that the cheeseburger requires a “basket” should give everyone pause. Why? And what’s up with the stick? How do you get a cheeseburger on a stick? Doesn’t it fall apart? Fools. How do you make everything work when it’s on a stick? You fry it:

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    You take the cheeseburger, all the good stuff, mush it into a ball, coat it in breading, and fry the crap out of it. Then you put a stick in it, and drop a number of them in a basket. The best part of the above was that I missed the “Display” part of the writing on the basket. I just thought it was a warning “Do NOT Eat”. Ha. The line for this treat was so long…

    Years ago, I made the mistake of eating the giant turkey leg, because I assumed it was “healthy”. I’ve now read some odd things about it, ie some claim it’s really a pig bone wrapped with lots of turkey meat and then skin to hold it together. Regardless, no one disputes that the legs are more than 1000 calories and 50 grams of fat. Here’s a picture of a million of them:

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    Sydney got to make the next choice. I was looking in the lamb tent. They have lamb chops, rack of lamb, lamb burgers, open face lamb sandwiches, lamb parfaits (I’m not kidding), and of course, fried pickles, fried green beans, and fried macaroni and cheese:StateFair2014-14Want to guess what Sydney picked?

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    Fried mac and cheese is… disturbingly delicious.

    Immediately after, Sydney wanted a corn dog. She chose a small sized one. I’m not joking, this is the SMALL:

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    Next to the cart stood this sign:

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    I don’t know why, but this was my favorite thing of the day. I just think it’s the idea of this clearly classically trained, snooty french chef as the spokesperson for for the grill food cart. He’s even got the napkin folded over his arm as he explains that the baskets include french fries and cole slaw, but the a la carte sandwiches do not.

    We got the usual potato thing, where they turn turn a whole potato into one long strip and then deep fry it. Here it is before:

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    And here it is after:

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    And before you ask, of course we paid an extra buck for the cheesy dipping sauce. I think I forgot to tell you before that Noah purposely wore his “trophy stackin” t-shirt today, so I would inevitably tell him he was “trophy stackin” throught the day. And I did.

    When we finished the plate, I asked which of the kids had spilled soda on it:

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    Turns out it wasn’t soda. It was oil. We didn’t feel too good about ourselves at this point. But I forgot all about the oil, when I saw this enraging sight:

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    Funnel cake? I’m interested. Elephant ears? Nice. Cherry topping? Are you kidding? Cherry? Listen, you bring your A-game to the Indiana State Fair. You leave your “cherry topping” at those second rate fairs. You get none of my business! This is how you entice correctly:

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    This cart’s got your funnel cakes. It’s got them with red velvet, cookies and creme, and birthday cake batter, too. Yeah, it’s got cherry, but it doesn’t even waste words on it! It’s saves that for it’s Reeses’ peanut butter cup funnel cake. THAT’s how you come correct. This year even featured funnel care ice cream sandwiches:

    StateFair2014-24Yeah, they covered it in chocolate, too.

    We needed more salty, so we had a giant fried pork tenderloin sandwich. It’s all business:

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    Jacob opted for “open face” to save on the carbs. Noah? Still trophy stackin in the background.

    I post this because I love the honesty. No frills. Cheezy beef sticks. That’s what he’s got:

    StateFair2014-27We finished, as always, at the deep fried candy cart. This year’s new thing was “red velvet” deep fried oreos, but my kids are traditionalists. Only regular deep fried oreos for them:

    StateFair2014-34These are, of course, oreos dipped in batter and then deep fried. On a stick. We also had the Deep Fried Reeses’s peanut butter cup:

    StateFair2014-32A deep fried Milky way (full size, not fun size!):

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    And then finished it off with a deep fried butter:

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    I admit, I had forgotten how much molten butter was in one of these things. It spurted out all over my camera strap, which is now very shiny and smells of heaven. That lump in the middle is still a chunk of solid butter that hadn’t melted yet.

    On the way out, Sydney demanded we see some animals. Like her mother, I think she’s looking for a little plausible deniability. Some other reason to have visited the state fair. We saw piglets, sheep, goats, cows, and this:

    StateFair2014-36That’s “Junior”. He’s the Reserve Champion World’s Largest Male Hog. 888 lbs. And someday, he’ll be coated in batter, deep fried, and covered in chocolate and powdered sugar not 100 yards from where he’s currently sleeping.

    Just kidding, Junior. I didn’t see the bacon cart this year. I think they got rid of it.

    Thanks for reading! We eat this so you don’t have to. That’s how much we love you.

    See you in 2015!

    @aaronecarroll

     

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