Sorry about the long absence. Real life encroaches on digital utopia. To make up for it, I regale you here with tales of our adventures at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh.
Somehow, the North Carolina State Fair has become renowned as a showcase for brinksmanship in fried cuisine. Mention the State Fair to a local and it’s likely that one of the first things you’ll hear mentioned besides prize-winning pumpkins, tractor pulls and sheep auctions is fried Oreos. So this year, while others were attempting to catch e. coli at the petting zoo, we set out on a quest for x-treme fried.
The epicenter of fried insanity is at a rather obvious concession booth somewhere past the center of the midway, kind of near the bunny coop and the hobby/craft exhibit–just look for the sign advertising fried everything and the throngs of sugar- and grease-addled fairgoers. The booth pictured here was the source of all things fried and unholy. For the record, here’s a list of the things that were advertised as being available dipped in funnel cake batter and boiled in oil:
- Funnel cake (OK, maybe not funnel-cake dipped funnel cake….)
- Candy bars (Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers)
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- Coca Cola. Yes, Coca Cola. Don’t ask.
Of course, we weren’t able to try all of these. Or even more than a couple. Or hardly one, for that matter. Luckily, we had a guest who was more than willing to order–and eat–two of these items. Because of his selfless bravery we were able to experience–vicariously, thank goodness–some of this good badness. (Chocolate-dipped frozen cheesecake on a stick was also available, but since it wasn’t deep-fried, it’s somewhat outside the scope of this discussion (though why it couldn’t have been chocolate-dipped and then deep-fried is beyond me).) First on the docket were the fried oreos. These came 5 for $5, and were exactly as they appear to be: oreos, dipped in batter, deep fried, and dusted lightly with powdered sugar. Really, the powdered sugar seemed superfluous, but I suppose that if one is going to create something abhorrent to both God and man, one might as well take it all the way.
I must admit, I tried these last year at the state fair. I here recount from personal experience the horror that is the fried Oreo. The batter is a pretty typical funnel cake type batter, though less crispy owing to its thicker stature. It is grease-saturated, as is all fried fair food, and if one attempts to pick up the Oreo by hand one should make sure to have plenty of napkins on hand. I was uncertain what exactly I was expecting when I bit into the first Oreo–would it be crunchy? Would it taste like an Oreo?–but I was somewhat surprised to find that the Oreo, too, was… while not “soggy,” it was certainly flexible. My teeth met only slightly increased resistance as they passed through the cookie layer. It did, in fact, taste like an Oreo, but the slightly greasy mouthfeel of the Oreo that says “arteriosclerosis” was magnified beyond human comprehension. The deep-fried Oreo was the ultimate expression of hedonistic delight–insanely sweet, guilt-inducingly greasy, disturbingly enjoyable, and utterly revolting all in the same mouthful.
Then there was the matter of the deep-fried Snickers bar. I didn’t actually try this, but judging from what I saw I can imagine that it had all the endorphin-releasing, insulin-flooding and stomach-turning capacity of the deep fried Oreos, but this time impaled on a stick and with nougat. As our guest bit into his fryolated chocolate confection, my worst fears were confirmed: the candy bar had softened into a peanut-studded miasma of molten chocolate, caramel and nougat, and the only thing giving the abomination any structure whatsoever was the deep-fried sac that contained it. If it weren’t for the stick providing some kind of foundation to the fried outer layer, the candy bar would most likely have wrested itself free of its golden brown coat and become a gooey, sugary puddle on the back of its consumer’s hand.
As for the other items on the menu, I can only quake with fear and imagine the horrors. I’m most curious about the mechanics of the deep-fried cheeseburger–does it have a bun? pickles? mustard and ketchup? Also–deep fried Coke?
There were a few other food delights to behold at the Fair. Right next to the fried food booth there was an “olde fashioned” soda stand, which seemed to be mostly an ordinary soda machine with the spouts set into a plastic facade made up to look like a wagon full of soda barrels. The root beer, it must be said, wasn’t half bad, and we got some nifty-and-dorky “souvenier mugs.” For some reason people were fascinated by our cheesy mugs and kept asking us where we got them. What, exactly, did these entrancing baubles look like? They looked like this:
Also, it seems that the next trend after “fry everything” is “put hot sauce on everything.” I wonder how that will go on a Snickers….