09 November 2008

Food Fare at the State Fair

Our State Fair is a great state fair.  Don't miss it...

Chicken-fried started at breakfast.

If you have ever been to The State Fair of Texas (NEVER call it the Texas state fair) then you know that every year there is exciting new fried fare at The Fair.  SFoT 2008 is no exception.  We arrived at 10:00 AM and started the day off right with chicken-fried bacon.  Yep, bacon.  Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph the CF bacon before we devoured it, so let's see if I can paint the picture in words.  The slices of bacon seemed to have been sliced into thirds, fried stovetop in the traditional manner, then dipped into the batter and deep-fried.  The finished product was crunchy, salty, peppery, and different.  It was served with a sour cream-based zesty dipping sauce.  I doubt that we will repeat it next year.

After the bacon, we were off to the animal barns to see whatever livestock was in stock.  On this day it was mostly cows and goats.  The pigs had already come and gone.  (Chicken-fried bacon anyone?)

All of those animals made us hungry again.  It was time for the time-honored tradition of a mustard-drizzled Fletcher's corny dog.  Those of you living in lesser parts of the world (outside of north Texas) might think these stick-ridden concoctions are called "corn dogs".  Think again.  For those of you who don't know what a corny dog is, here's the deal...  Take a hot dog and impale it lengthwise on a skewer.  (Fletcher's uses heavy-duty wood skewers.)  Bathe it liberally in a cornbread batter bath.  Lower it slowly into a vat of hot oil and fry it until it's golden brown.  Drizzle it with mustard (see photo) and enjoy!  For testing purposes, we enjoyed it with a cold Shiner bock.

There are several Fletcher's outlets throughout Fair Park, but our favorite is on Cotton Bowl Plaza, in the shadow of the main entrance to the Cotton Bowl.  The plaza is lined with food vendors and picnic tables, and and intersects the midway and its rides, games, and other attractions.  It provides a good jumping-on or jumping-off spot for the Texas Skyway, which glides silently above the midway and provides a restful respite from the carnies pimping their games below.

Our next food stop was another state fair staple, Ruth's Tamale House.  Tom and Robert like her namesake item, pulled pork tamales served with a bath of spicy hot chili.  My favorite, though, is the garlic sausage on a bun with the requisite drizzle of mustard -- garlic and spice and everything nice.

We couldn't call it a day without having a fried PB&J.  We first had this delicacy in 2005 when my parents were in town from Atlanta for The Fair.  That year we were surprised, dare I say stunned, at how good these things are.  Truth be told, it is really a PBB&J -- peanut butter, banana, and jelly -- sandwich.  They take the all-American classic sandwich, lightly batter it and deep-fry it.  To serve, they cut it into four triangles and dust it with powdered sugar.  It has to be savored to be fully appreciated -- just ask my parents.

The State Fair of Texas runs the first three weeks of October each year.  Check it out at www.bigtex.com and ignite your senses!