Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is a Connoisseur

I was a woman in my mid-twenties the last time I went to a state fair. In fact, the last time I went to a state fair I was teased by L (who lived on the East Coast at the time) about how the California State Fair was not legitimate.

'What do you have at the California State Fair? Salad eating contests?'

This stung, as comments that result from untrue stereotypes often do. But I will tell you that I ate a deep fried Twinkie, saw the state's (world's?) largest and smallest horses, and rode a mechanical bull, all at the Golden State Fair. Put that in your wheatgrass and shoot it.

What I love about the State Fair is that everyone is an expert. People have specific and unwavering opinions about everything from the animal exhibits to the parking. They can speak at length about the Sham-Wow, the varying types of salsa makers for sale, and the Go-Girl. But when it comes to food, we are all connoisseurs.

I tend to fast before the state fair-- not in a Ghandi kind of way, but more in a Dr. Oz kind of way. I eat as much spinach and take as many vitamins as I can in the days before going, because everyone knows rule number one at the fair is that one must consume (without guilt) as much junk as possible. Watching a baby lamb being born just hours before the Butter-Carve-o-Rama is fun and all, but if you're not going to enjoy the food you may as well stay home.

As a teacher going back to school next week, I have decided to dust off my grade book and give some assessments of the food I ate (or watched other people eat) yesterday. Warning: Not for the weak of stomach.

1. Nachos
I normally will not eat food at the fair that I could find at my local gas station, but nachos are the exception. They are in a food group of their very own in terms of deliciousness. For $3.50, this is what I got:Where are the jalepenos, you ask? Where is the extra cheese? The nachos were an epic disappointment. Grade: D-

2. Hot Dog
This was L's choice, and here is a picture:
I'm no expert on hot dogs, but I thought relish the color of green apple Jelly Bellies would take off significant points. However, L confessed this morning that he thought it was pretty good. I guess it takes all kinds. Grade: B

2. Cheese Curds
In my research, this was the only food unanimously agreed upon as a must-have for the State Fair. Now I know why. Fried cheese is proof that God exists, and she is good.

Grade: A. No, A+.

3. Deep Fried Pickles
I wouldn't have tried these if not for the friends we met up with. What you are seeing is two dill pickle slices with cream cheese in the middle, deep fried. Oh, the dipping sauce? That's ranch dressing.
The actual consumption of these wasn't as bad as you might think, but the moments after were worse than you think. It kind of felt like that scene in Alien. You know which one I'm talking about. Grade: B+

4. Roasted Corn
I have to admit that the sweet corn in this area of the country is pretty stinkin' good. In fact, we met a guy on the bus ride over who's friend owns the roasted corn stand where this was purchased. He works the state fair for a week and a half, and then takes the rest of the year off. I guess that's what happens when you can sell corn on the cob to suckers like me for $3 each.

Totally delicious, but at this point I was starting to see stars. Grade: A. I think.

5. Deep Fried Candy Bar
This was not my idea. Everyone who goes to the state fair has a food that they must try-- an indulgence they must give in to. This was my friend K's:
If you're going to deep fry a candy bar, a Milky Way would not be my first choice. I took two bites of this, and if you're wondering what it tastes like I can only liken it to a piece of Halloween candy that has been wrapped in bread and sitting in your jean's pocket all day. Not bad... but not cheese-curd great. Grade: C+

6. Cookies and All-You-Can-Drink Milk
Again, cookies are not State Fair food in my opinion. I made an exception for these, considering the line ALL DAY to get them looked like a mob scene. I was not disappointed. They were hot when I got them, resulting in the following assessment. Grade: A-
From the cookies, we made our way to the all-you-can-drink milk stand. This woman in her thirties loves milk, and I can drink a whole lot of it. This milk was cold and fresh. Let's just say I got my dollar's worth. Grade: A

After this, the food coma began to set in. I think we said goodbye to our friends, but I can't remember. There is no place to go after eating this much food other than to bed.

So that was my experience. A woman in her thirties is not much for comparisons, but if I must choose an overall winner I'm going to have to admit that the midwest knows what's what when it comes to a good time at the State Fair. There, I said it. It was the milk that did me in.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I'm late for my 10:00 colonics.


  1. I want some of those cheese curds. Like now.

    (P.S. Even after moving a billion times in the last couple of years I know EXACTLY where to locate that picture of you riding the mechanical bull at the state fair that year... and can vividly recall that you had to don someone else's t-shirt before riding it because the woman-in-her-twenties top you were wearing would not have been appropriate for all viewers! Ah the fair... :)

  2. You will not be surprised to learn that I loved this post. LOVED it. I laughed, I cried, I drooled. I want you to start a food blog next. You know, in your spare time.

    BTW, day-glo green relish is a key ingredient in a traditional Chicago dog. See, e.g., this Wikipedia entry about Chicago-style hot dogs: Welcome to the Midwest.

    Also, I think you should trademark this phrase: "Put that in your wheatgrass and shoot it." Pure genius.

  3. Hahahahahaha... I have seen all those wonderfully nutritious items at our state fair but always passed them up. No more, however!

    You have given me inspiration to try at least some of them next summer(minus the gas station nachos - bleh!). This was such a riot to read - now if only I had some cheese curds to give my day inspiration. LOL. Great post!

  4. Great post. Interesting to hear a non-native's point of view on our beloved Fair.

    Nachos? Seriously?

    I assume those cookies were the cookies from the yellow barn. You did it all wrong if you went after someone else's cookies. With that said, however, I don't get it. I've never had them. Some go to the Fair to specifically walk away with a bucket of them.

    Good that you tried the deep fried candy bar, corn, and cheese curds. But you missed the corn dog (NOT pronto pup), pork chop on a stick, and shake (or sundae) at the Empire (butter head) building. A visit to THIS State Fair is not complete without them.