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State Fair of Texas: Let's rank the foods!
Don't stand still too long, or we'll deep-fry you, too
Today in issue #68:
Delving into State Fair of Texas foods/crimes against nature
Passing out in a food coma
Grooving to some Dallas soul
Let’s get to it …
Does Texas count as part of the South? For the purposes of today, I’m saying yes. Then again, this might just serve as a pilot episode for my new spinoff Lone Star State-focused newsletter, Flashlight & A Brisket.
And hey, speaking of brisket … I love stunt food. Love it with all my soul. I know those wild-ass bacon-bourbon-gummy bear nachos and pepperoni-sriracha sundaes that baseball teams whip up every year are primarily for Instagram purposes, not for consumption and damn sure not for nutrition. I don’t care. Bring me all of them to admire.
I’ve dabbled in the world of unholy food remixes myself, like the time I took three of Wendy’s most famous ingredients and, well, threw ‘em in a blender:
But I tip my ten-gallon hat to the state fairs of the world, particularly Texas, which has turned stunt food into high art. Perfecting fair treats — quick, easily replicable on a mass scale, and always fried — takes a level of culinary genius equal to any Bourdain-wannabe lording over a Michelin-grade kitchen.
I look forward to the annual release of the State Fair of Texas’s Big Tex Choice Awards nominees like I do Marvel movies and Opening Day. They’re the 10 best fair foods for that year — five savory, five sweet — and their brilliance never disappoints.
Last year, we delved into magnificence like the Lobster Corn Dog and the immortal Gobble Balls. This time around, even the honorable mentions sound delicious, or at least mysterious — who wouldn’t want some Dim Sum Loco Burritos or Texas Ranch Hog Wings? And I simply must know what a “Fat Elvis” is.
All due respect to those almost-weres, but we’re here for the winners. Ten nominees, each vying for the right to join Fried Jell-O, Fried Bubble Gum and Fried Beer in the pantheon of Texas legends. We’re power-ranking this year’s entries based on the time-tested scientific principle of Hell Yeah, I’d Eat That. Get your napkins and antacids ready …
10. La Bluebonnet
Texas bluebonnets are beautiful flowers, yes. And this drink, a concoction of blueberries and citrus and sugar poured over ice, sounds delicious. But it also sounds distressingly normal, like you could order it somewhere other than a state fair. If you don’t feel a twinge of shame and guilt when ordering state fair food, it’s either not weird enough, or you need to seek help.
9. Fried Charcuterie Board
Salami, mozzarella and green apples, all fried. Sounds perfect, but points off because it’s served in a little paper tray, not on a board that’s also fried.
8. Peanut Butter Paradise
Warning: description may induce sugar shock. A deep-fried honey bun, injected with caramel, topped with peanut butter, covered with Reese’s and Butterfinger bits, drizzled with more caramel, and topped with powdered sugar. This is the dessert version of Tom Cruise trying to hit Mach 10 in the new Top Gun: we’re already going faster than humanly possible, but what happens if we try to go just … a … little … faster…?
7. Deep Fried Rocky Road
Fried fudge, marshmallows, chocolate syrup, glazed nuts, vanilla ice cream. Sounds goddamned delicious. Sometimes you just play the hits.
6. Deep Fried BLT
This falls into the “let’s see what we can fry” category. The BLT’s on a tortilla with cheddar cheese, which is a nice couple of swerves over the usual soggy-white-bread consistency of quickie BLTs. Deduction for the lettuce and tomato, which comes dangerously close to being healthy, or whatever passes for it at a state fair.
And now, the top five …
5. Cha-Cha Chata
Look at that milkshake. LOOK AT IT. Horchata made with milk and cream and caramel drizzle, topped with … I dunno, a bunch of fried sweet dough blobs and sprinkles and a churro and all kinds of other delicious junk. I would absolutely annihilate one of these on a hot Texas fair afternoon, and so would you.
4. Chicharron Explosion Nachos
In the second episode of the new Netflix show The Sandman (highly recommended, by the way), the title character wanders through humans’ dreams. If he ever found himself in my dreams, he’d be in the midst of an ocean filled with this: pork rinds topped with fajita beef, queso, barbecue beef and Cajun spices.
3. The Ultimate Brookie Monster
This is the dessert equivalent of when parents caught their kids smoking and they’d make them smoke the whole pack. Oh, you like dessert, huh? How about we cover cookies in brownie batter, fry ‘em, add ice cream, and top it all with cheesecake and strawberry sauce? How would you like that? … oh, you like it a lot? This didn’t go the way we planned …
2. Deep Fried Lasagna Roll
I introduced my boy to Godfather I and II this week — classic movies, one day they should make a third — and we both came away really wanting pasta. (Also with a greater appreciation of nuanced filmmaking and a deep understanding of the way the American Dream twists the souls of those who chase it most fiercely … but, yeah, mainly pasta.) This dish might not have passed Corleone muster, but then again, maybe Michael and Fredo could’ve sorted out their differences over some fried lasagna instead of, you know, going fishing.
1. Holy Biscuit
Behold, the masterpiece of 2022. A golden biscuit filled with brisket and street corn, topped with honey-cooked bacon and fried-pickle fries. I will form my own religious order based on this biscuit, and the communion line will stretch around the block.
Poll of the week: Order up!
You've seen the nominees for State Fair of Texas food of the year, now it’s your turn. Make your selection. (And if any of my readers in Texas feel like mailing me one of these, well, I wouldn’t turn it down.)
Defend your choice right here:
Song of the week: “Corners,” Bastards of Soul
Let’s stick in Texas and roll with the Bastards of Soul, a Dallas-based outfit that’ll bring a touch of ‘70s soul to your ragged 2022. This song, the title cut off their latest album, hits you with the perfect mix of tight groove and soaring chorus, an epiphany that’s always in the pocket. You can find “Corners” and other damn fine music on the ever-evolving Flashlight & A Biscuit Spotify playlist:
That’ll close off this edition with a bang, friends. Have yourselves a fine week, and we’ll see you right back here next Saturday.
This is issue #68 of Flashlight & A Biscuit. Check out all the past issues right here. Feel free to email me with your thoughts, tips and advice. If you’re new around here, check out some of our recent hits:
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