There is part of me that will always love the gaudy over the top character that is always part of the fair experience. It’s all about the bright colors of the fairway, the blasting 80s hair metal at the rides, and of course, the wafting smells of the of the smoke from the foodstands. I have always thought of the fair as an event that happens in the dog days of summer in the last week of August, as it was in Illinois. It is weird to me not to be uncomfortably hot as we take a death march down the fairway toward rides and food. Though the weather is different and there are no beer tents dotting the surface of the landscape, the October North Carolina Fair very much reminds me of the fairs that I went to as a kid.
As it usually is, the main event of the fair was the hunt for which food vendor would serve the best and hopefully, most creative fair treat. After fighting our way through the entrance and the heaving masses. the first item we stumbled on was the Krispy Kreme doughnut burger stand. I have to say I was rather surprised that almost everyone I talked to about sampling this bizarre concoction was almost universally grossed out. I mean, come on people I know it’s not foie gras but what’s not to like about doughnuts, burgers, and bacon? I think for both Julia and I this was the holy grail of the fair so as soon as we had them we tucked in and didn’t really stop until there was nothing left. I will admit that the idea of ketchup or any other condiment on top of the burger grossed me out a bit, so I went with lettuce tomato pickles bacon and cheese. I loved the great sweet and savory combination of the sugary doughnuts and the burger and salty bacon. It also felt both interesting and a bit strange biting through the gooey outer doughnut bun into the warm inner core of burger meat and bacon. I really would have been fine without the cheese which turned out to be cold and unmelted and sort of a waste of dairy products. Don’t get me wrong though, this burger was excellent and I have already started listing new spins on the burger that we can try at home. Here’s to hoping they don’t cause a coronary. Blueberry doughnut bleu cheeseburgers anybody?
Number 2 on our “stuff to try” list was the Kool-Aid pickle, which is a southern delicacy in which a pickle has been brined in a Kool-aid and vinegar mixture instead of the traditional straight vinegar. Finding them at the fair was a lot of work, for they seemed to appeal only to the very adventurous palate, which meant the stands that carry them were few and very far between. I think we were both very hesitant about this one so we ordered only one order for us to share. It was a good choice because we were both instantly struck by the rather alien, unappetizing appearance of slick red pickle slices. Admittedly, there is something odd-looking about all pickled veggies, but I think the red Kool-Aid dye amplified that a million fold. One bite brought a taste that was like an overly tart cherry flavored sweet dill pickle but slimier and less crunchy. I’m really not sure what I expected but neither one of us were particularly fond of this weird slimy cherry-ish veggie. It just seemed like an odd combination that didn’t quite work me, and it kind of left me wondering if it would have been better with Blue Berry Blast Kool-Aid. But I guess we’ll never know.
I know that this is probably the most important part, but we did indeed make our way over to the deep-fried stand during our little fair outing. This time around I went with the new deep-fried Chips Ahoy and Julia decided on the more classic fried PB & J. Mine was great, with the heat of the fryer and breading managing to melt the cookie and making it super soft and doughy as if they had been freshly taken out of an oven. Julia however was not as fortunate with her PB & J which turned out to be rather sub-par. After putting it through the fryer the deep-fried professionals had dumped about a gallon of powdered sugar over the top of the unsuspecting PB &J. Julia said that after she dusted it off it was sorta tasty, but it was also too big and almost impossible to eat because of its odd size. It almost seemed that if they had been of the “on a stick” or “bites” variety, it would have been a much more appealing and edible snack.
As usual, the fair introduced us to food we would never eat in any other situation but turned out to be amazing. I am already wondering what fried goodies the fair will have in store for us next year.