Please don't judge me too harshly for what you are about to read. I ate a lot at the state fair this year, but most of this food was shared, and very few things were finished. I was at the fair for about six hours. Six glorious hours.
First, a few tips on dining at the fair:
The food at the fair is plentiful, fattening, and most often found on a stick. The best thing you can do for yourself is arrive at the fair hungry. Show up hungry, but pace yourself. Don't get crazy at the beginning. You have a long day of eating ahead and you don't want to ruin the fair experience with an early morning bellyache. Be cool. Drink plenty of fluids. I find that Diet Coke suits most of my fair beverage needs. When you think you are full, don't give up! If you have been eating sweet, try switching to salty. Thirty years of the Minnesota State Fair have taught me that the perfect time for cheese curds is when you think you might die if you eat another mini donut.
I started my fair day with a delicious Pronto Pup. A Pronto Pup is a corn dog. It is also the undisputed favorite fair food of Minnesotans. Some Minnesotans get all huffy about the difference between a regular corn dog and a Pronto Pup. Me, I believe that if it looks like a corn dog, and tastes like a corn dog, well, it's a corn dog. That being said, I went out of my way to start the day with a Pronto Pup. It was good.
I don't want any lip from the mustard police about the ketchup on my Pronto Pup. Ketchup is delicious. I don't understand why you people (Chicago, I'm looking at you) take it personally when I enjoy my hot dog with ketchup. Can't we all just get along?
I was still a bit hungry after The Pup. Show up hungry, remember? I decided to take a chance on The Pickle Dog stand.
Cream cheese + pastrami + pickle = pure scrumpsh.
A Pickle Dog calls for a frosty Diet Coke.
I had never had a Pickle Dog before as I tend to stick to the basics (food wise) at the fair. A few years ago Sam and I bought some alligator bites (tastes like chicken), and it was then that I learned that I don't really care about the exotic fair foods. Every year all of Minnesota gets riled up about some new fair food or another- a few years ago it was the deep fried Twinkie. This year, I am horrified to report, all of Minnesota is talking about Hot Dish on a Stick. (Hot dish is Minnesotan for casserole.)
For the sake of the blog I had intended to try the Hot Dish on a Stick, but I blanched upon seeing the retched thing. It looks like a corn dog, but it contains potatoes and ground beef and whatever else is in "hot dish". After hovering around the booth nervously for a few minutes I realized that Hot Dish on a Stick is served with a side of cream of mushroom soup for dipping. I ran like hell.
Here, a mother attempts to force feed Hot Dish on a Stick to her innocent, infant son:
Hot Dish on a Stick reminds me of another mind boggling Minnesota State Fair vender, the all you can drink milk booth.
WTF! Nobody over the age of four months should be gorging themselves on milk. EEW! eww eww eww eww eww eww eww eww eww EEEEEEEEEEEW. All you can drink milk! The mere mention gives me the shivers. Hot Dish on a Stick, followed by all the milk you can drink. EEEEEWWW!
Quickly, on to something else.....
My very favorite fair food is the Tom Thumb mini donuts. Mini Donuts are theatrical and delicious. I have always loved watching the mini dog nut machines. Because it's Minnesota, and Minnesotans are nicer than normal folks, the mini donut guy took the glass casing off the machine so I could take some good pictures. Thanks, Tom Thumb donut guy!
Once the little donuts make their way out of the river of grease they are liberally sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. For $3.50, I received a bag of 16 warm, bite sized donuts.
It is my dream to one day own a Tom Thumb mini donut machine.
I can't believe how much more food I have to tell you about. An absurd, embarrassing, horrifying, fantastical amount of food left to go!
Fried cheese curds are pretty much exactly what they sound like- delicious. Mozzarella cheese, battered and deep fried. Curds are a Minnesota State Fair staple and they are must be eaten annually, if only for the sake of tradition.
Finally, in one Herculean burst of fair enthusiasm, Mary and I decided we needed some garlic fries to finish off the day of eating. Garlic fries are so wrong.
So wrong, in such a very very right way.
I blame the garlic fries for the fact that no matter how many showers I took over the following days, I could not feel clean.
Damn you, garlic fries.
Whoa. That is a lot of food at the state fair. I did it for you, internet. I wanted you to see. All in all, this was a banner year for eating at the fair.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Fair Oddities. (Butter heads)