This weekend Jess and I decided to head on over to the 2009 Iowa State Fair and see all there was to see (and of course eat all there was to eat). It was supposed to storm all day, so we packed umbrellas and the like, but by the time we got there we learned (again) to not trust weathermen. The sky was blue and the sun was out all day (hooray for sunburns!), so it make for a nice day out. So with all the games, booths and other such aside, let’s get to some of the food!
While there Jess and I decided to try a variety of foods ranging from the healthy to the, er… not-so-healthy. First up we needed to have a corn dog. Not only is it a fair classic, it is one of the 100 foods to eat in Iowa before you die. Let me tell you, it tastes good… real good. I don’t care how much of a health nut you are, drop it and get one of these from your local state fair. Those “corn dogs” you buy in a box in the supermarket compare to this about as much as a McDonalds hamburger compares to one you make yourself. Now, here’s a tip: For $4.00, you get one corn dog, but for $6.00, you get a “foot long.” The tip is that the “foot long” is actually two normal corn dogs together on one stick. If you don’t mind sharing, get one of those and split it and save on cost.
Following the corn dog, we wandered around for a bit before stumbling upon a booth selling deep fried pineapple. I’ll give you a second to try and wrap your brain around that…. you’ll need it. I mean, deep-frying “dry” products seems normal, but pineapples are notoriously wet. For science, we decided to buy one. When it was coming up we noticed them pouring some sauce of some sort on top. We asked what it was and were informed, quite gruffly, that it was “pineapple sauce.” For those wondering, “pineapple sauce” is simply powdered sugar and water. The taste was quite excellent, though the eating was somewhat hampered by the fact that the pineapple didn’t exactly stick to the coating. One bite in and the entire thing split apart so that we were left with the batter coating and “sauce” in the bowl and a warm piece of pineapple on a stick. All in all, if you can get the weirdness, it is pretty good.
While we were wandering around we discovered that apparently they hadn’t removed enough taste from beer with MGD64 and now we have an upcoming contender for “Beer Flavored Seltzer” in the form of “Select 55.” Jess and I were going to try it, but balked at the $5.00 charge to do so. I figure we’re not missing much… at this rate they’ll soon be calling it “beer” with the quotes. I kind of wonder how long it’ll be until these beers have reduced themselves down to a drop or two of actual beer per cup of fizzy water?
Another hour or so later of walking and we were famished! Time for a break! I spotted Bauder’s Ice Cream (which has gotten multiple nods from Gourmet, Bon Apetit, and People magazines) and while I stood in line, Jess was taken in by the smell of beef teriyaki… on a stick. The good thing about the teriyaki is that it helped pass the time in the long line for ice cream. Sadly, though the flavor was great, it was a pretty tough piece of meat. I’m talking boiled bootleather tough, but somehow, through sheer willpower, we managed to slay the beast. Score! Finally I reached the front of the ice cream line and even though the Peach Ice Cream was on the 100 foods to eat in Iowa list, I had to get the Fresh Strawberry ice cream. It was good… no, it was great. It was perhaps the best ice cream I’ve eaten in a long time. I’m sure the wondrous taste was partially due to the heat and partially due to the actual fresh strawberries inside. Unfortunately it tasted so great I didn’t even think to take a photo!
Finally our day was winding down and we were running low on funds… only a few more things we could get. Should it be a “walking taco?” Perhaps a traditional funnel cake? As we were trying to decide we came upon the Iowa Sheep Industry Association‘s food stand. The smell was welcoming and just drew us in. They were selling everything you could think to do with lamb from burgers to brats, but Jess and I decided to spend the last of our dough on a kebab and jerky… totally worth it. I’ve had many types of jerky, but lamb jerky has to be in my top three. It had the perfect “jerky” texture and taste, but ended with the delicious and unmistakable taste of lamb. I could have eaten and entire bag, no problem. The kebab was peppered lamb, peppers and onions all on a stick and was just perfect to end the day with. Lamb is simply one of my favorite meats and I think it needs a larger following here in the US. There is just so much you can do with it (and it is impossible to replicate that unique taste)! Sadly I forgot to take photos, so enjoy some random photos I took of the booths during our day out at the fair:
Such ended our trip to the Iowa State Fair, and while there were many other things we could have tried, I think we had a great variety this year and will look forward to next year and trying some of the many other things they had to eat. I leave you with the following questions: “What is your favorite fair food?” and “What is the weirdest food you’ve ever come across at a fair?”