• Adventures in Indiana State Fair Food 2015

    At this point, my wife thinks I should get a press pass to the Indiana State Fair. I have no idea how that would help.

    Once again, the families who said they “would” accompany us found excuses. Evidently, no one wants to be seen with us at the fair. I can’t imagine why. You don’t care. You came here for the food. Let’s begin.

    We made the mistake of going opening day. The fair was way more packed than usual. We couldn’t even get into our usual parking lot. Therefore, instead of entering at the usual main gate, we entered through the lesser-known “gate 10” which is way in the back near the “pretend to be a farmer” exhibit. This meant a bit of a walk to the food.

    Each year, I get fooled by this (all pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them):

    State Fair 2015-1

    I think, “she’s here!” But she’s not. It’s some permanent fixture that has nothing to do with Sarah Palin. But every year, I get tricked. Every. Year. By the way, it is totally possible to ride the short walk to the food, and I think a lot of people do. Here’s Noah, walking past (and faster than) the moving tractor that is slowly delivering people to stuff their faces:

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    This was pretty much the first “food” thing we saw:

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    It’s pretty much just sugar in a variety of flavors delivered in a concentrated format right into the diabetes. But I’m a monster cause I let my kids drink diet soda.

    Next up was this crime against Philadelphia:

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    This place professed to serve “cheesesteaks”. This is what you get:

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    That’s not a cheesesteak. I was actually offended. Don’t think that’s one of my children holding that poor excuse for food. I would never let one of my kids eat this “cheesesteak”. That’s crap. THIS is a cheesesteak:

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    That’s from Mama’s in Philadephia about a month ago. Fun story. I was in town for literally six hours. Two of them were spent at Mama’s, first eating, and then packing 36 pounds of frozen cheesesteaks into a cooler that I checked in empty to USAir so I could bring them home to family and friends. I take my cheesesteaks very seriously. The Indiana State Fair does not.

    They do, however, take their fried potatoes seriously:

    State Fair 2015-7State Fair 2015-8That first shot shows bowls lined up, each of them containing a whole potato in one long Moebius-like strip. It’s magic. Then they drop the whole thing into the deep fat fryer. The second was an action shot I obtained with help. Please note the massive quantities of liquid fat draining off the potato as this worker pulls the whole thing en masse from the fryer.

    Here’s the family before and maybe one minute after we placed this thing down on the table:

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    A few things to note. The thing is huge. It’s accompanied by ketchup and a $1 portion of “cheese”. You can also see my wife in the second shot. I ask you to remember that when she later denies eating any of this. Lies. Finally, please note the diet soda next to the plate. Remember, that it’s that soda which will later garner me the most outrage.

    We didn’t get this, but I wanted to prove again that there is a “healthy” option at the fair:

    State Fair 2015-11

    Below is something I didn’t understand. At the pastry cart, you could get a giant cinnamon roll, a chocolate eclair, elephant ears (stuffed or not), beignets, cinnamon bites, cannoli, or… a country breakfast. Who would get the biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage, and fried potatoes at the pastry cart? No one that I saw. Why did they even offer it? I feel like there’s a tax code thing going on here that I’m not privy to.
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    This made me sad:

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    There’s this Mexican food cart that tries so hard each year to offer ethnic food at the state fair. The little table sits in front of it so that people can visualize what a “burrito” or “nachos” or “taco salad” looks like. I think they use the same food each year. I’m not sure these are real. But this cart doesn’t get the Indiana state fair. If you want to sell Mexican food, this is how you do it:

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    “Corn Dog Caliente” con jalapenos y chipotles. Yes, it’s on a stick. That’s cause this is perennial favorite Spaghetti Eddie’s, which is trying to branch out from Italian into Mexican. I’m not sure how well it went. Spaghetti Eddie’s knows its clientele, though, cause everything – and I mean everything – comes on a stick:

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    There’s the original “Super Stick” with meatball and cheese parmagan [sic] on a stick, dipped in garlic batter mix, deep fried, and served with BOTH marinara and hot BBQ dipping sauce. There’s the newer “Super Stick” (yes, same name) which is a stick of pepperoni and cheese prepared and served the same way as the original “Super Stick”. And now there are Buckeyes, also shot through with a stick (batter dip and deep fry optional) served with strawberry dip. Or, you can get the Corn Dog Caliente. Your choice.

    But if you really want a corn dog, you’re likely going here:

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    I mean, who wouldn’t get the Giant Corn Dog? They sell those along with regular corn dogs for the non-Hoosiers:

    State Fair 2015-15I’m not sure if I’ve ever discussed the corn here before. Yes. corn is a vegetable. But once you dunk it in a literal vat of melted butter and hand it to people molten hot, it’s not really a vegetable anymore:

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    If you look closely, you can see the river of butter running off it. This sign was posted near the cart:

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    There is nothing, and I repeat NOTHING, about this which benefits the community.

    Next up was the lamb tent. It’s hard in words to capture the unbelievable number of offerings there. Look:

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    There’s the open face lamb sandwich, the lamb parfait, the rack of lamb, lamb chops, spiral fries, french fries, the half pound lamb burger, the third pound lamb burger, fried pickles, the giant loaded sweet potato, the lamb taco, the lamb burrito, deep fried green beans, the pulled lamb sandwich, and deep fried mac and cheese.

    The amazing thing is that all of this is packed into a tiny little area:

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    I mean, how is it possible that such a tiny operation could produce such a variety of food? Best not to dwell on it.

    The irony was, we wound up waiting in line here because my daughter Sydney wanted the fried mac and cheese. Normally, this would be absolutely forbidden by mom and dad, but on state fair day, we relax the rules; the kids take advantage. We got to the front of the line at 11:30 AM, and – I kid you not – they were already sold out of it. Hoosiers… boy, I don’t know.

    Across the way from the lamb tent was this:

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    That’s the official fair “Toy Store”. You can see how much fair goers care about toys. We’re here to eat. Things like the Outlaw Fries Combo platter:

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    You get fried jalapenos, fried pickles, and fried onion strings, along with spicy dipping sauce for the onion strings, and some ranch dressing for the pickles. You also get outlaw fries, which are thick potato chips covered with cheese, bacon, sour cream, and chives. This costs nineteen dollars. It may be the most expensive food at the fair. People wait in line for this.

    Noah was pouting by now because he wanted his ice cream burger. Too bad for him, they don’t sell them anymore. But they still sell doughnut burgers:

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    I thought he might be tempted by this:

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    If there’s one thing missing from a doughnut burger, it’s mac and cheese. Thank goodness, my kids drew the line here. Fried mac and cheese, sure. Mac and cheese on a bacon cheeseburger sandwiched between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts, though, that’s crazy. Here’s the burger, and Noah crushing it:

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    My wife wants one thing every year, and that’s the dairy barn. She knows of my war with the milk-industrial complex, but she doesn’t care. She went to wait in the ridiculously long line. Sydney took the opportunity to drag me to the pork tent (similar to the lamb tent) to finally get her fried mac and cheese. She won:

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    This is, frankly, gross. It’s exactly what it looks like. Fried wedges of mac and cheese. It tastes just like it sounds. And looks. I kid you not, we got one of the last available, because the pork tent was about to sell out, too. Hoosiers… boy, I don’t know.

    Back to the dairy tent. While waiting for Aimee, I took some pictures:

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    Get a load of the menu. Aimee wound up buying the fried mozzarella cheese sticks (accompanied by cold marinara sauce), and the blue cheese grilled cheese, which was regular grilled cheese with blue cheese chunks added in. I want you to notice a few things here, though:

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    First is the milk-industrial complex at work. Enough said. Pick three items off this menu and tell me we’re doing America good. The second is this:

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    I swear, there were hundreds of people waiting and not one was looking to get a baby bottle filled with milk. Finally, here was the featured dairy item at the dairy tent – billed as the “healthy” stop:

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    A s’more shake and a grilled muenster sandwich on cinnamon raisin bread. Five dollars. How many of the three recommended servings of dairy do you think this counts as?

    Enough was enough. Time for dessert. The fried candy cart:

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    There are so many options. but for the first time ever, the Carrolls hit a wall. When I suggested we forego the usual candy combo, no one argued. We opted for the deep fried Oreos. Not the red velvet Oreos, mind you (which were a weak “new” item. Poor form, candy cart), but the regular deep fried Oreos covered with powdered sugar, or course:

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    This is so much more delicious than it looks. I’m only human.

    Once the eating was done, we saw the obligatory animals. That makes us feel like we aren’t there just to eat ourselves into oblivion. This day was llama day:

    State Fair 2015-45We also saw the world champion largest boar. I wish this picture gave the proper perspective, cause this guy was huge! Noah was most impressed with his equally huge testicles:

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    And that’s a wrap. Thank goodness I remembered to take omeprazole before we started. See you in 2016!

    @aaronecarroll

    P.S. Past trips to the state fair documented on TIE can be found here: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

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