For me, just thinking about a state or county fair brings to mind fond childhood memories of hurling through the air on the Scrambler, clattering through the fun house, and most vividly, the smell of goat manure in the morning. There really is nothing quite like it, except for possibly the smell of a mixture of pig, goat and cow manure, oh, around 4 p.m. on a 100-degree day. Oddly enough, it’s when I leave the animal exhibits that I can’t help but think about food.
More specifically, stick food.
The smell coming from the food stalls is amazing; and by amazing, I mean unidentifiable. Nonetheless, for the better part of four days a year, the stick diet is the only one I have ever made a point of sticking to.
I like to open my four-day county fair diet plan with a deep-fried artichoke heart on a stick. It is a strange concept, as it is kind of a strange thing, the heart of an artichoke. Only in America would someone take an exotic looking plant, impale it on a piece of wood, fry the life out of it and sell it for a profit. Speaking of profit, just what is the mark-up on cotton candy? Last time I glanced at my recipe card there was just one word: Sugar. Is it a recipe if there’s only one ingredient? I mean, is there a recipe for banana? Anyway, if you really want to get technical and count air as an ingredient, then you might actually have a recipe for cotton candy. How much are they making on that stuff? Whatever it is, it’s way too much. It does however, come on a stick, and therefore, I get to eat it.
And who doesn’t like corn dogs? Well, my mom, for starters. She hasn’t eaten a corn dog since she was eight, when she consumed the original stick-food at our very own Amador County Fair. Let’s just say it wasn’t the last she saw of it…If you see her at the fair this year, offer to buy her one.
To be honest, there is one thing on a stick that I never consume at the fair: caramel apples. It does contain the required stick, and therefore qualifies to be in the diet plan, but the presence of that apple, all natural and juicy and obviously grown on a tree just ruins the whole experience. One would have to consume a helluva lot of fry bread on a stick to cancel out a crisp, fresh apple.
Even corn-on-the-cob gets stuck with a stick, and really just barely qualifies due to the natural nature of corn itself. The saving grace is that it’s slathered in butter and doused with salt. It could only be better if it was fried. (Why in tarnation hasn’t anyone figured out how to batter and deep fry an ear of corn? To whoever does figure this out, please keep the butter on the inside of the batter so that it doesn’t drip down my arm.
Even Asian food has gone stick, with the introduction of the eggroll on a stick. I remember seeing that little hut for the first time at the State Fair several years ago and wondered what happens when you bite into a bunch of shredded cabbage on a stick? Doesn’t it just fall apart? My guess is that cabbage isn’t the main ingredient, but most likely some mysterious, sticky meat product is, one that packs nicely around the little wooden spear. I passed on that one.
Each year, I longingly search for my favorite foods, hoping to find them stuck on a stick: pizza, tacos, beer. Wait a second! I just realized something: If I carry around some chopsticks, then technically everything can be on the stick diet! And a straw is basically a stick with a hole in the middle, so technically beer is in! I can see it now: My pre-Destruction Derby meal plan: a few hours visiting the beer booth, drinking beer through a straw, followed by nachos-with-chopsticks. Who’s with me on this?
Keep it classy, Amador!