Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It's Indiana State Fair Food!

What a day at the Indiana State Fair! After a quick stop at the downtown Farmer's Market (no love in the sour cherry department), it was off to the Indiana State Fair for a guided tour of fair food! It's no secret I love a good corn dog and my dining companion knew exactly the stand to take me for the best. Delish! And after corn dogs, we had deep fried vegetables (the fried green tomatoes were tangy and good), lamb BBQ (who knew there was pulled lamb), honey ice cream, then deep fried sauerkraut balls, deep fried corn fritters, and deep fried Pepsi nuggets (funnel cake dough mixed with Pepsi, then battered and fried.) I still wanted the deep fried peanut butter cups, but after the fry-tavaganza, I was done. We skipped the cheezy beef sticks (although that was the stand that marked where we parked the car), cream puffs, spiral cut potato chips, and I didn't get an apple dumpling.

Food does vary from vendor to vendor. Apparently, they use a common commissary, but each can modify their batter for corn dogs, combos of ingredients, and cooking times -- and cooking skill does make a difference. It sounds a little like a Top Chef challenge, but it explains why a few stands have wacky offerings and others have wildly varying versions of the same things. If you're looking for the best corn dogs, they're on the main street across from the back of the grandstand, right across from the In Shape Indiana booth (ironic, actually.)

Here's what I learned today at the fair:

*In one building, there is woman carving a 1360 pound block of mild cheddar.

*I now know what the inside of a horse's nose and esophagus look like thanks to the live horse gastro-endoscopy on display.

*The giant hog is only 900+ pounds this year. What is the year of corn coming to if we can't get a 1000 pound award winning hog?

*Did you know that it's bad to smell your food cooking? We learned at a cookware demo booth that the smell is all the nutrients leaking out. Of course, their cookware solved that. Who knew?

*Those water sprayers with fans are gifts from the gods.

*Watch your step so you don't get run down by the bio-diesel tractor pulling the fair train! *

*No one looks good eating one of those huge turkey legs.

Our best food of the day? The award-winning cajun corn fritters right in front of the administration buidling. Get them without the sauce. That's the cajun part. Sweet corn goodness -- which, by the way, is the theme of this year's fair. I did miss the pork tent and the famous Hoosier Ribeye. Ahh, something for next time.


Joanna said...

I went to the State Fair yesterday too, and I sat through about half of the cookware sales pitch too. On the upside, I got a free salad out of it- a nice, cool, & refreshing snack on a steamy hot day!

braingirl said...

We were the ones who laughed out loud then left when she started in about why you shouldn't smell your food cooking. The ladies in the crowd were lapping it up, though.

Can you sell snakeoil and cookware at the same time? I think you can!

M. Zane Grey said...

Did you tour Clarian's giant clogged artery?

Of course, there's no need to worry about that sort of thing, since the Indiana State Fair has banned trans fats....

braingirl said...

We missed the giant clogged artery! But we did laugh at the Tums Diner set up over by the 4-H building.

terrykirts said...

A wonderful assessment of this year's fair food with plenty to leave the mouth watering for more. Just a note about those still-desired deep-fried Reese's cups: be careful what you wish for. The one I've had in the past have been so greasy I could hardly make it past a single bite. In several instances, the peanut butter filling, already a high-fat item on its own, burst out of the batter in search of MORE fat. Things that are pretty tasty already on their own seem poor candidates for the fryer.

As a follow-up, the "caliente" corn dog at Spaghetti Eddie's isn't spicy at all. Maybe it's "Hoosier" spicy or something. They say they put hot sauce in the batter, but you can't taste it, and the spicy ketchup from the pump bottle is only slightly more flavorful than your typical Hunt's or Heinz.

The highs should be under 90 this weekend (glory be!), so get in line!

ChefThomE said...

I may my way to the state fair yesterday, oooo so bloated today. We have made it an annual tradition to go around to pick up several fair favorites, then take them back to the grand parents for a lunch. I know I am a bad man for feeding 80 year old bad, bad bad food, but it is sooo good and only just once a year.
When we sat down to eat all 4 of us had different favorites: Gramps - the Italian Sausage (he is from Sicily), Grandma - the pork sandwich, Girlfriend, the elephant ear, and mine was the Pepsi Balls.

I worked for the commasary a couple of years ago and learned which vendors seem to do a better job of cooking (and sanitation). Hints:
Get your beef from the tent on the north side of the track, the chefs association makes the food here.
Get your pork from the west side, away from the pork barn. I think the meat is always drier on the east side.
Make sure you get your cajun corn balls where Braingirl points out. There is another pretender in front of the administration building and they are not as good (fyi, I liked the cajun sauce they are served with).
Elephant Ears, go the the red barn elephant ears near the Fall Creek Entrance.
Corn, The one between the Our Land Pavilion and Marsh building (JayCees) seem to taste better.

Best tip of all, when you go, go in a group and share everything, that way you can try more.
And don't forget to see what the kids and adults have spent the past year raising and making. The pirate ship cake was my favorite.