Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Grave Consequences of Food God Never Intended to be Fried

Ohio State Fair
State Fair Grounds
Columbus, OH

If you’ve been following this website for any length of time, you know there are at least three certified Suit757 ways to convert almost any food item from good into great.

Drench it in chocolate.

Burry it in bacon.

Or dip it in batter and deep fry it.

But as I learned after a recent visit to the Ohio State Fair in Columbus, the key word in that opening statement is “almost”.

For centuries now, fairs have been ideal locations to roll out fun, experimental takes on tasty junk foods.

Some of man’s greatest inventions – everything from the hot dog to the hamburger to the ice cream cone (stuff right up there with polio vaccines, bikinis and dollar beer night at the local ballpark, as far as I’m concerned) -- have been credited with being invented at fairs.

And like any truly extraordinary breakthrough in human development, these one-time experimental foods have become ubiquitous pillars of American culture.

Who knows? Maybe some crazy sounding concoction like deep fried Kool Aid served up at the Ohio State Fair will one day lead to fried Kool Aid stands at every busy intersection in America.

Or maybe not. But I was determined to find out.

The annual Ohio State Fair has been a quintessential all-American country-comes-to-town celebration since the 19th Century.

Salt-of-the-earth folks from all corners of the Buckeye State have flocked to this same identical spot just north of downtown Columbus for more than a century to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl, check out blue ribbon winning chickens and walk around under the blistering sun carrying various meats-on-stick.

Unfortunately, despite the desperate need traipsing through the steaming fairgrounds under the 90 degree sun, there was no beer to be found.

The disappointment was soul crushing.

What’s the point of gazing upon an 826 pound pumpkin or a life-sized cow made entirely of butter without a plastic cup of cold beer in hand?

Attempting to make lemonade out of lemons (literally), I decided to try some food items that wouldn’t have worked with beer anyway.

Like chocolate covered bacon.

I actually had high hopes for his one.

Sometimes savory and sweet work well together.

I mean, I love the salty, porky taste of good thick bacon. And who doesn’t like chocolate?

Unfortunately, I had to spend three dollars to discover that bacon will not be replacing peanut butter any time soon as a marriage partner for chocolate.

Like a poorly constructed bathing suit, the dark chocolate exposed the not-so-attractive “burnt toast” flavor of the bacon while completely covering over the good parts.

Conclusion: chocolate, good; bacon, good.

Chocolate covered bacon? Not so much.

Next up, an assortment of deep fried Oreos, Nutter Butters and Buckeyes all covered in chocolate syrup and powered sugar.

This experiment was a life altering (and stomach churning) experience for me.

Up until this fateful moment at the Ohio State Fair, I truly believed that any food could be improved upon with a quick dip in sweet batter and bubbling grease.

The deep fried Oreos seemed to hold up best under the carb and grease onslaught. Since Oreos aren’t really made of any natural substances, they don’t melt or disintegrate under such extreme conditions. And the sweet batter adds a distinct taste addition to the Oreo components.

But still, I couldn’t help but wonder – why bother? Oreos are pretty good straight up.

The deep frying of the Nutter Butter was even more pointless. It was hard to tell where the batter, cookie and peanut butter fillings began and ended. It was just kind of a hot, mushy, sugary mess.

But it was the deep fried Buckeyes that had me fantasizing about a giant jar of Tums.

First of all, if you are from Mars (or Michigan) you may not know what a buckeye is. It’s the official tree of Ohio – with leaves that look like pot and nuts that resemble acorns.

But that’s not what I’m talking about.

I'm talking about Buckeye candy. Chocolate candies that have a peanut butter center, made to look like the nuts from a buckeye tree.

They are quite tasty. (See above about chocolate and peanut butter as marriage partners).

I watched as the lady manning the fry pit punctured three Buckeye candies with tooth picks, dipped them in an industrial sized plastic bucket of batter and then tossed them into the grease. Bobbing up and down in the bubbling cauldron of grease, the batter-encased Buckeyes quickly turned from tan to brown as the heat and oil did their trick.

After heeding the fry master chick’s warning to let them cool for a few minutes, I took my first bite.

An unappetizing drool of hot grease immediately poured out as soon as my teeth punctured the batter.

Inside was a sloppy liquefied mess. Most of the chocolate seemed to subliminate away or seep into the batter. The molten peanut butter gushed onto my fingers -- and then the ground.

After just one and a half deep fried Buckeyes I was ready to curl up on the blistering fairgrounds blacktop in the fetal position to nurse my ensuing stomach ache.

It was indeed one of the more humbling experiences of my life.

As my innards convulsed like a caged rat, I realized Suit757 had finally met his match.

Deep fried alligator? Sure.

Deep fried frog legs? Of course.

Deep fried corn on the cob? Sublime.

Even, dare I suggest…deep fried vegetables? Suprisingly delicious.

But please! Do not EVER ask me to eat another deep fried Buckeye.

Rating: Clean Grill With Shirt.

1 comment:

  1. Of course the night before + 99 deg heat had nothing to do with this!