I think I’ve found my calling: “Official Fair Food-Taster.” Yeah… I like the sounds of that. I like the tastes of that even more. And since most of you haven’t had the benefit of an entire week at the Fair as I have, and because most of you don’t have the added benefit of pregnant-chic tastebuds (you ain’t tasted nuthin’ til you’ve tasted it pregnant!), I’ve taken it upon myself to sample a little bit of everything (and I do mean everything) at the Fair so I can fill you in on the food hot-spots you really shan’t miss. Talk about taking one for the team! You’re welcome.
I want your gorge-fest to be as efficient as possible, so as I walk you through the gates of deliciousness, I’ll also post snapshots of the front of each booth so you’ll recognize them as you scavenge around the fairgrounds on your own food journey. May the force be with you.
Start your night off with corn. You need to get (albeit starchy) vegetables in your diet everyday, and eating them first is the only way to guarantee there will be room. Hills has the best corn in the patch. Don’t skimp on the butter. Or the lemon butter salt. And grab some napkins on your way out. You’ll need them for later…
Get down to business with the main course portion of the evening with a hot fish sandwich at the booth right in front of the Dorton Arena waterfall. It’s one of the hidden gems at the Fair and, to my knowledge, one of the only spots you can find fish around here. Gotta get those Omega-3 fatty acids. But enough of this healthy business… this is the State Fair people!
For fries (the good kind with some of the skin still on there) go to Al’s. There are several locations but the best is right in front of the Jim Graham building. Leave Al’s and turn left at the fried Tempura stand to get a baggie of mini-hot donuts. You won’t be sorry. And since you’re probably thirsty by now, give your tummy a small break while you head back toward Gate 11 and hit up the fizzy Limeade stand. Seltzer water makes it fizzy, fresh lime makes it tart, and obscene amounts of sugar make it the equivalent of liquid-crack. This will not be your only stop at the Limeade stand tonight.
Now that you’re warmed up it’s time to get experimental. Head back toward the rides until you spot a huge Gatorade bottle on top of a booth. Let the bottle beckon you closer and closer until you can actually smell the fried biscuits-n-gravy sticks. Now slowly… gradually… drizzle some syrup on top and actually bite into the fried biscuits-n-gravy sticks. Exhale. Smile. Snap out of your moment-o-glee and have them send you on your way with some buffalo-style meat of some sort (they buffalo anything, so take your pick).
If you’re feening for some “real food” by now, get a steak sandwich (tenderloin with fried onions, mushrooms, peppers, and cheese) down by the Village of Yesteryear, and then top it off with NC State’s ice cream dream. You’ll think you’ve died and gone to ice cream heaven. You have. But don’t stay… there’s still the grand finale to come!
Fight off the food coma long enough for a fried PB&J on your way back up the Midway and walk toward the light… you’re almost there. To keep your strength up, grab a jalepeno-n-cheese stuffed corndog and a cheeseburger corndog (one in each hand) at the booth next to Bloomin’ Onions” and gnaw on them as you make your way toward what you’ve been waiting for all night: the fried mac-n-cheese. This year’s State Fair fried specialty. Hurt me.
The best fried mac-n-cheese is at the booth right next to Hill’s corn. It looks and tastes like they made a mac-n-cheese casserole, cut it into giant squares, and dipped it in just enough batter to fry it so that every outer-edge is crunchy and every inside bite explodes through the crunch with ooey-gooey-cheesy noodles. And the only thing better than the fried mac-n-cheese just so happens to be at the same booth, so you might as well have it for dessert. Prepare yourself now for the fried banana pudding. It will set you free.
And now, my friend, you have experienced Fair food. But did you think I’d forgotten about the fried Pecan Pie, Strombolis big-as-your-head, fried candy bars, Elephant Ears, Gyros, cheese fries etc etc?! Oh no! Take a day off, go for a nice long walk, and get a good night’s sleep because at tomorrow’s trip to the Fair there’s still more to come!