Now that Labor Day has officially passed, it’s time to turn our attention to fall. Fall is truly my favorite time of the year. I think that’s because, growing up in Texas, fall always brought such relief from those hot summer days. I’ve lived here my entire life and truly love this state, but by the second or third week in August, I’m tired of seeing triple digits on the thermometer. I’m ready for a break.
Fall in Texas – and especially in Fort Worth (as well as that other city to the east) also means that people start buzzing about the state fair. It’s the biggest and the best. The fair is a great place to scope out a new car, ride spinning, whirling, flipping things until you pass out or throw up – or both, or to spend your life savings on things previously only “as seen on TV.” It seems that in the last decade, however, the Texas State Fair has become known nationally for one big thing – the food.
Every year on Labor Day weekend, food vendors vie for the honor of being named the best (or the most creative) food offering at the fair. Passed years have honored Chicken Fried Bacon (which I actually just saw at a recent blues festival – it’s not just for the fair anymore), Fried Banana Splits and Fried Cookie Dough.
This year’s winners were a couple of state fair food veterans. Abel Gonzales and his Deep-Fried Butter (most creative) and Christi Erpillo’s Deep-Fried Peaches and Cream (best tasting).
No doubt the Deep Fried Peaches and Cream would be a delight. Peaches are dipped in a batter that is flavored with cinnamon, ginger and coconut then fried to a golden brown. They are then drizzled with raspberry sauce and served with vanilla- buttercream icing. They really do sound delicious.
Sadly, no matter how wonderful the fried peaches are, it seems the talk of this year’s fair will be the fried butter. Abel Gonzales is a fried-fair-food expert. He brought you fried coke, fried cookie dough and even fried peanut butter & jelly. He’s a legend in these parts. Now he takes odd to an entirely new level.
In Gonzales’ creation, the butter is whipped to a light airy state and then battered and deep-fried. If you wish, your butter can also be injected with one of three flavors – garlic, cherry or grape. I’ve heard it tastes like toast – or a roll. I’m not judging until I’ve sampled it myself.
Other finalists for the food competition include:
Green Goblins – cherry peppers stuffed with spicy shredded chicken & guacamole, battered, deep-fried and topped with queso.
Twisted Yam on a Stick – spiral-cut sweet potato, fried on a skewer, then rolled in butter and dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
Texas Fried Pecan Pie – mini pecan pie that has been battered, deep-fried and served with caramel sauce, whipped cream and candied pecans
Country-Fried Pork Chops – battered and deep-fried thin chops served with ketchup or cream gravy.
Sweet Jalapeno Corn Dog Shrimp – Shrimp on a stick, coated with a sweet batter, deep fried and served with a spicy glaze.
Fried Peanut Butter Macaroon – A peanut butter cup, encased by a coconut macaroon and then deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar.
The fair runs from September 25-October 18. No doubt I’ll be there and while I won’t try all of these, I’ll definitely sample the two big winners and report back. No doubt those lines will be the longest I see all day.
If you’re hungry for your own brand of fair-food weird, fry something. What’s the most unusual thing you can think of to batter and cook in oil? I know that in the past, many jokes have been made about deep frying butter and yet, it’s now a reality. Get into the kitchen and create something. Report back if you have any success – or even if you don’t. The experience is most of the fun.
For now I’ll leave you with one of my own favorite odd flavor combinations. It’s not fried but it is delicious, unusual and can certainly be served on a stick. Maybe next year you’ll see me serving them up at the fair.
Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Bananas
- 6 bananas
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 strips lean bacon
- 12 long skewers, soaked in water
Peel the banans and cut them in half crosswise. Sprinkle each half with pepper and wrap in a piece of bacon. Thread one banana half on each of 12 skewers. Grill the bananas over medium heat, turning as needed until the bacon is crisp and bananas are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
NOTE: Pineapple can also be used in addition to, or instead of, the bananas.