Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The most complete Arkansas State Fair food preview you can find

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 9:07 AM

DEEP FRIED WATERMELON:  On a stick, for real.
  • Grav Weldon
  • DEEP FRIED WATERMELON: On a stick, for real.
I think I can honestly say I probably know more about what food will be served at the Arkansas State Fair than any other member of the media. It's not that I learned a whole lot more than anyone else at yesterday's media preview; it's that I've spent the past few years all over the Arkansas State Fair cataloging every food that's served and then attending other fairs in advance to see what's coming.

You want to check out the list I've compiled? It's over at Tie Dye Travels, including links to Eat Arkansas stories I've done on specific items in the past. UPDATE: A photo overview is also below in slideshow form. Come Friday, I'll go back out and do another version, shooting everything once again in its natural habitat. You won't find a more complete Arkansas State Fair food guide.

Maybe that makes me a little arrogant, maybe not. I show my work. I suppose that's why seeing the fair preview put out by Shea Stewart over at the weekly published Sync Magazine gets my ire up. Take for instance the description of Fried Butter:

So, fried butter. Now, the treat is not just a cholesterol-spiking, glob of yellow fat fried in batter. Well, it is. Kind of. But in truth, the butter melts during the frying process so it’s less a stick of deep-fried butter, and more fried dough heavy on the cinnamon and soaked in butter. Perhaps covered in powdered sugar or a glaze. Doesn’t that sound more appetizing? (If it doesn’t, blame Texan Abel Gonzales Jr., the mad-cook creator of fried butter, and other fair delicacies such as fried Coke and fried cookie dough.)

FRIED BUTTER:  From the State Fair of Texas, not the Arkansas State Fair version.
  • Kat Robinson
  • FRIED BUTTER: From the State Fair of Texas, not the Arkansas State Fair version.
You know, I can appreciate the knowledge of where Fried Butter comes from (and I even tried some at the State Fair of Texas) — but this is where the research fails. The Arkansas State Fair folks brought us on over to meet the food vendors and sample their wares yesterday, which is an awesome thing because that way we get to try and report on the actual food that will be sold at the fair itself.
FRIED BUTTER: On a stick, as youll find it at the Arkansas State Fair.
  • Grav Weldon
  • FRIED BUTTER: On a stick, as you'll find it at the Arkansas State Fair.
The folks from CMS are running the steakhouse near the entry of the Hall of Industry that will feature Steak Boats (a steak and potato creation not actually shown at the preview), Fried Watermelon, Grilled Watermelon, Fried Corn on the Cob, Fried Strawberries and Bananas — and Fried Butter.

The Fried Butter in this case is yes, a stick of butter frozen on a stick, battered like a corn dog and deep fried. It's like cornbread on a stick with the butter inside. It's not sweet. It's a nice savory option... as long as you can get past the idea of there being a plain old stick of butter in the center.

I had a couple of other issues with Sync's Fair reporting — which you can read on the jump. And yes, maybe I'm being cruel. But as I said, I've done my research.

There's also the reporting on the new fair foods. As written on the Sync site:

BEER BUTT CHICKEN:  As seen at last years Arkansas State Fair.
  • Kat Robinson
  • BEER BUTT CHICKEN: As seen at last year's Arkansas State Fair.
So is every Arkansas State Fair food on a stick and fried? No. New foods this year (not on a stick) include Beer Can Whole Chicken, Strawberry Beignets, sugar-free Snow Cones, Saltwater Vanilla Taffy, Letha’s Fried Pies, Batter Fried Veggies, Jalapeño Lemonade and Walking Tacos among the three dozen or so new foods. What about the returning favorites? All the usual suspects such as burgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, nachos, popcorn, chocolate-dipped bananas, fried catfish, kettle corn, Polish sausages, smoked turkey legs and cotton candy along with the weird, including barbecue rabbit sandwiches, lobster, Greek pita sandwiches and roasted corn.

DEEP FRIED VEGGIES:  From last years fair preview.
  • Kat Robinson
  • DEEP FRIED VEGGIES: From last year's fair preview.
Hrm. Okay, some may be new. I'll give it to you on the Jalapeno Lemonade and Letha's Fried Pies (which, by the way, are wonderful). But Beer Can Whole Chicken? Really? One of the top new foods at the state fair last year. Batter Fried Veggies — well, we talked about that last year, too.
WALKING TACO:  Pictured here from the State Fair of Texas, introduced here at the 2009 Arkansas State Fair.
  • Grav Weldon
  • WALKING TACO: Pictured here from the State Fair of Texas, introduced here at the 2009 Arkansas State Fair.
And the Walking Taco? I was getting onto the folks at the State Fair of Texas about that this year — because it was introduced here in Arkansas in 2009.

Meh. I think I've ranted enough for now.

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