Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Iowa State Fair - Part 1: The Food

Oh how I love the fair. I love everything about it – the steamy August heat, the gritty film of dirt that covers you the second you walk through the gates, the flashy neon signs, the people watching, and most of all, the food.

Oh my gosh, the food.

The smells, the taste, it’s amazing. I like going to the fair just to see what kinds of food they sell. It’s like watching a documentary on the National Geographic channel about some distant country. “They eat giraffe brains in Zanzibar? Wow -who knew?” Yeah, at the Iowa State Fair, you can watch people eating equally ridiculous food – and it’s usually on a stick.

So sit back and come along with me on this photo journey of the foods at the Iowa State Fair. Check this out:
*photo of food stands lined up along the main drag at the fair:

Stand after stand selling battered, fried, frozen, sugary food with no nutritional value whatsoever. It’s a dream! Corn dogs are the fair favorites, and The Boy and Bumblebee each scarfed one down – for breakfast when we first arrived at the fair! You have to get a corn dog at the fair. In fact, I think it’s against the law to leave without eating at least one.

Being the sensible eater that I am (ha!), I had to save my fair food indulgence on the one and only thing that matters to me in this cold, harsh world: cheese curds. Just look at the stand that proudly sells them:
*photo of cheese curds stand

Look at that mouse, laying so coolly atop his bed of cheese curds. How does he remain so calm? Especially when the nuggets of fried tastiness look like this:
*photo of fried cheese curds:

There it is. Foodporn in all its glory. Hold on while I wipe the drool from my chin. Is it wrong that when I look at that picture I hear the sounds of angels singing as the gates of heaven open?

Have I ever mentioned that Hollywood claims to hate cheese? She's a freak. Her name is a kind of cheese, for goodness' sake! To me, hating cheese is akin to having an I Love Hitler tattoo. It’s just un-American! But… take a look at this picture – she clearly doesn’t dislike cheese as much as she claims to:
*photo of the kids eating fried cheese curds.

I haven’t ever tried this next delicacy, but it’s definitely something up my alley. Fried Mac n Cheese. Yum. What’s not to like about that?
*photo of fried mac n cheese stand.

And check this out. For fair goers with a wicked sweet tooth, I present the fried twinkie stand:
*photo of stand with fried twinkies, oreos and candy bars.

I have to admit that the thought of a battered and deep fried twinkie makes even this hardcore sugar-aholic cringe. But it’s a popular stand. They sell deep fried Snickers there too, and that’s what Hollywood was saving up her food splurge for:
*photo of Hollywood eating a fried snickers bar.

I tasted it. It was alright in a warm and chocolaty and gooey kind of way, but I prefer my Snickers frozen.

The fair’s not all about crazy, sugar-coma inducing foods, though. I love going to look at the fruits and vegetables on display. My kids think it’s the most boring thing ever, but I drag them along with me anyway. Look at these - aren't they beautiful?
*photo of a closeup of a basket of grapes.

Bumblebee wanted to eat “just one” grape – you know, just like at the grocery store, when you test the grapes to make sure they aren’t bitter. Don't worry - I didn't let her!

And here is a table full of beautiful vegetables. It’s a veggie table!
*photo of vegetables on display.

I love this picture – the veggies look amazing and I love that growing produce is celebrated at the fair. And, speaking of growing produce, the fair is famous for displaying the biggest everything. Cows, pigs, and even veggies. Look at the size of this pumpkin! (and please, ignore the faces of my children who clearly don’t know what the phrase ‘say cheese!’ means.)
*photo of the kids standing by the largest pumpkin.

1,099 pounds! Can you believe that! Don’t small vehicles weigh that much?

There are many more foods at the fair that I didn’t capture with my camera, but perhaps the strangest thing we found was this stand selling chicken lips. The name alone grossed me out, but The Boy helpfully told me, "Mom, they're probably just fried chicken breasts. You know chickens don't have lips, right?"
*photo of chicken lips stand that says ‘wings are for sisses – try your new favorite food.'

Wings are for Sissies indeed. (It would have been better if the sign had spelled the word ‘sissies’ correctly, but hey - it’s the fair. Spelling is only important in the spelling bee contest.)

Check out the t-shirt on the guy behind the counter. It says ‘You’re on my t-do list!’. Ha. The fair is awesome.


Da Momma said...

On a steeck ... that was my big joke at the WI State Fair. You know, like Jose Jalapeno on a steeck.

It is amazing how many things they've figured out they can put on a stick and/or deep fry, isn't it?

But, the cheese curds are the BEST! The lady asked me what kind of sauce I wanted with them and I said "None. No sauce. I'm a naturalist." She cracked up. Who wants to ruin the golden bits of heaven with sauce???

I'm so jealous! I wanna go back to the fair!

Anonymous said...

Evil Evil are positively Evil!!

Now Im hungry, and I totally want an Elephant ear!

writtenwyrdd said...

I had to work the 4th of July weekend, which is when we have our county fair, so I missed all the food...on a steeek. All that greasy goodness and no corndogs or mini donut shortcake!

Your pictures are great, though.

Kirsten said...

I can't get good cheese curds in MI and it makes me want to cry every day...though the size of my butt would not fit in my chair, methinks...

WebGal said...

Well, I have to admit something. I've never had a corn dog at the fair. Ever. Nor do I want to. Ew. Went to the fair last night for a team function. Our SVP wanted us to tackle eating all 54 of the foods on a stick. I couldn't find my assignment, but he went so far as the corn brat and cheese on a stick (which is an ENORMOUS cheese curd).

Steph said...

Mmmmmmmmmmm! That's a lot of deep fried stuff! Fairs rock. Around here we've got awesome cheese curds. I've never had them deep fried - never even heard of them before I read your blog. I bet I would love them, though. I like deep fried cheese sticks, so I bet curds would be even yummier. Okay. Now I'm hungry and Iowa is so far away....