I’ve mentioned in this column before that one of my favourite memories of the Manitoba Summer Fair was the old rib cook-off contest put on by Manitoba Pork Producers and the Provincial Ex.
CKLQ’s Steve Antaya and I would team up to take on some of the best grillers in Westman, and fair-goers would be the winners as we would "divvy-up" the hot, sweet, spicy meat for all to enjoy after judges got their share.
I’m not sure if it was the government food watchdogs getting involved or the event just simply lost its lustre, but I miss it. And think I’ve got an idea to replace it.
The Fantastic Fair Fry-off contest.
Here’s how it would work. Contestants would gather. We would deep fry any foods we could think of, and the winner would get to sell their super fried food the rest of the week on the midway.
After all, there are so many fried foods we’re missing. Sure we’ve got mini-donuts and corn dogs, and elephant ears are here too, but there is so much more to fry and try.
What are some fair foods you’ve had elsewhere?
Eileen K H Moody: Deep fried Oreos
Candace Lily Wood: Beer battered Jalapeño bites with chipotle ranch (and) deep fried cookie dough
Meagan McKay: Deep fried pickles
Shantel Taylor: Deep fried Twinkies
Jillian Vanderheiden: Deep fried Mars bars
Nicki Ziler: Deep fried cheese curds
Jennifer Boake: Deep fried smores
Sam Lynn: Deep fried mac and cheese balls with a creamy siracha sauce — yummmm (I’ve made them before — deeelish)
Angel Flett: Deep fried pickles.
Now I’ve had the curds, and the Twinkies, and the pickles too. I’ve written about the Sundays they make in Iowa that are created with mashed potatoes instead of ice cream on a bed of roast beef with a cherry tomatoes instead of the cherry, and I’ve written about those glorious frozen Twinkies they coat in batter and deep fry, so they taste like the best cake and ice cream concoction you’ve ever put your mouth to.
But this year I found more. More fair foods that are actually being made and sold at fairs and exhibitions that should inspire entrepreneurs and maybe, we will get another food competition on the midway.
But this time instead of barbecues, we’ll bring out the deep fryers.
Have a gander at these delights:
Krispy Kreme Hamburgers
These come from Alabama, and feature a quarter-pound hamburger, bacon, cheese and two glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts in place of a single bun. The monstrosity contains nearly 1,100 calories and 67 grams of fat. I’m sure we could make a Tim Horton’s version of this puppy on this side of the border.
Chicken Fried Bacon
Battered Bacon made in Texas looks is exactly as it sounds. Crispy bacon rolled in flour and fried, often served on a stick. You’ve had deep fried mushrooms? They are relatively healthy. Deep fried bacon is not. However, I bet it’s tasty.
Deep Fried Jelly Beans
A favourite in Massachusetts, they’re just as they sound. A quick trip to your favourite bulk store to pick up jellybeans, flour and oil and you’re set. Apparently gooey, sweet and hot.
Fried Avocado Bites
These are from California, and are simply spears of avocado coated in a corn-dog batter and fried until golden. They serve them with a choice of two dipping sauces: ranch or herb-infused oil. This has inspired me to smuggle two avocadoes into the fair, and pay the corn-dog vendor — not for a corn dog, but to fry my avocado. This way I can say I had a vegetable of some kind on the midway.
Spaghetti and Meatball on a Stick
This one is easy to find (and close to us) as it’s on the menu at the Minnesota State Fair. It begins with a mash-up of meatball mix and cooked spaghetti. The mixture is formed into balls, dipped in garlic batter, deep fried, and finished with marinara sauce. I’ve also seen it served with parmesan cheese on it. It is here I call on city counsellor John LoRegio to get a booth loaded with goodies and get cookin’. John can make a mean spaghetti, so let’s see if he can do it on a stick. Maybe served with a side of saucy civic politics.
This is served up in Texas. And you can impress your friends with this bit of useless knowledge: Deep fried Coke is not actually the beverage by itself. Fried Coke is actually batter, made with Coca-Cola instead of water. It’s then deep fried and garnished with Coca-Cola syrup, whipped cream, and cinnamon-sugar. And if I owned a bar, you could take it to the next level by adding rum or whiskey. Imagine Fried Rum and Coke. We could call it a "baked Bacardi". Don’t eat and drive.
In North Carolina they’re known as Koolickles. Pickles soaked in the sugary kids’ beverage are a southern tradition — and a sweet-and-sour snack at North Carolina’s annual state fair. As you read this week’s column, I’m making a batch as we speak — since it’s the only food on my list this year that isn’t deep fried.
And even though the foods listed this year won’t be at the ex, it’s safe to say your calore intake will be more than satisfied with the corn dogs, pizza, and beaver tails to be had.
Enjoy the fair, and pass the Pepto Bismol. I think I just gained 10 pounds writing about this stuff.
Christie Coleman Atkinson
JOKE THIS WEEK
In a far away U.S. state, a carnival truck and a revival preacher’s truck collide head-on, and everyone is killed. The next thing anyone knows, St. Peter is interrogating the revival preacher thoroughly. Suddenly, the carnival crew arrives at the Pearly Gates reeking of beer and cigarettes, cursing and swearing, as St. Peter waves them all through. He continues questioning the preacher. The reverend sputters indignantly, asking "How can you let those filthy, unrighteous hooligans into heaven while you give me the third degree?" "Take it easy," St. Peter says. "They’re only going to be here a week."