Thursday, August 28, 2008

Deep Fried Goodness

If there was ever going to be a reason for me to go to Texas, I have found it. Not that I have anything against Texas, mind you. I'm sure it's a fine place (except for all of the cowboys. And the heat. My God, the heat!). I've just never been much of a Texas person. But who cares what kind of person you are when it comes to the Big Tex Awards at the State Fair of Texas, where they reward only the best deep fried concoctions out there. (And they're deep fried, for cryin' out loud. How bad could they be? Not very, I'll tell you what. I have a feeling that even the losers are winner with this competition.) And while it might not matter what kind of person you are, it probably does matter what kind of health your heart is in because you're not walking away from this one without at least one, probably two, clogged arteries. (No word on whether or not cardiovascular surgeons will be on hand for the inevitable spontaneous heart attack(s) that may or may n.....that will inevitably occur.)

Eight items are competing against each other for the title of the best fried goodness out there. Here are your fried, crispy, dripping in grease, lathered in tasty treats to choose from:

  1. First up we have Fernie’s All-American Fried Grilled Cheese Sandwich created by a one Christi Erpillo. You take two slices of white bread and add some American and cheddar cheeses. Then dip that in a batter of egg and milk (it's like the French toast of the grilled cheese world) and throw on some bread crumbs to add the appearance of some degree of sophistication. Comes with shoestring potato sticks, a pickle spear and tomato soup dipping sauce. Good Lord.

  2. Next, what is sure to catch on around the country, Chicken Fried Bacon, brought to us by Glen Kusak. Glen takes that really thick bacon with all of the pepper on it and dips that not once, but twice, twice in some battery batter and then into the cooker o' grease it goes. It comes with ranch dressing or honey mustard sauce and a generous portion of guilt.

  3. Shirley Weiss gives us the Fried Banana Split which has banana and honey peanut butter rolled in balls (mmmm....butter balls) and then, naturally, dunked in batter and fried right on up. As is with a banana split not dripping with lard, it is topped with some powdered sugar, caramel and chocolate syrups, chopped peanuts, whipped cream, banana split-flavored ice cream bites, and a cherry. (I'm not sure what the "banana split flavored ice cream bites" are doing in there. That's like saying I'm going to cook a steak and top it with some steak flavored sirloin strips. A fine idea, but this will not win.)

  4. In the "I'm Doing This Just To Be A Little Weird" category we have Justin Martinez and his Texas Fried Jelly Bellys. Deep fried, flavored jelly beans. Um, OK. So, it's just the Jelly Bellys rolled in funnel cake batter and fried. I'm having a hard time with this one. I could take a bunch of Skittles, shove them in a Hostess cupcake and toss that in the vat and it would be basically the same thing. Again, nice idea, but you're not winning. (No WAY you finish ahead of deep fried bacon God guy.)

  5. Deep Fried S’mores (Oh, good God, it's like camping with the feel of heaven thrown in.) are brought to us by Tami Stiffler as she takes marshmallow fluff and chocolate chips and puts them between two graham crackers. Give the mandatory dip in some sort of heavenly batter and into the fryer they go, to be dusted in powdered sugar when they emerge. Now you're talkin'! Experience camping without all of the bugs and the dirt and all of the God-awful time in the mountains pretending to have a good time because "you're camping"!

  6. Abel Gonzales has invented what he calls the Fire & Ice. And while that's a catchy name, it might more aptly be titled, "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" Abel utilizes a pineapple ring which he has battered and then, surprise, deep-fried. So far, so good. Boring, but good. The fried fruit is then topped with banana-flavored whipped cream, but not just any banana-flavored whipped cream. No, this is banana flavored whipped cream that has been frozen in liquid nitrogen. Apparently, when you freeze banana flavored whipped cream with liquid nitrogen, it causes it to smoke. The smoking fire hazard is then covered in strawberries and syrup and the fire department is alerted that it's desert time over at Abel's. This isn't Abel's first time entering the contest. Previous year's entries included Fried Coke, Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches and Deep Fried Cookie Dough. (Good Lord, Abel, you might be my hero.)

  7. With no science lab type ingredients, Nick Bert Jr. presents us with Fried Chocolate Truffles. Nick makes these dark chocolate truffles by hand and then rolls them in cocoa powder where they await to be battered and deep-fried. After all of the frying, there is the obligatory truffle dusting with sugar, cinnamon and more cocoa powder. Again, nice try, but it's just like taking a See's Candies truffle and giving it a dip in your Fry Daddy. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

  8. How do you like your balls? With chocolate? With strawberries? Deep fried? On a stick? (Ouch!) Then the Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Waffle Balls that Mark Zable has created are for you. Fresh strawberries with a chocolate shell, dunked in waffle batter and fried up to a greasy, tasty golden hue. Then dust with powdered sugar, skewer with a stick and you've got yourself a very tasty ball to go! Well played, Mark.

Now, according to the fine Southern folk over there at the Dallas Morning News, the Texas State Fair starts on September 26 and runs for a glorious 23 artery clogging days until October 19. Seriously, what's not to like about any of those entries? Cheese, bacon, bananas, jelly beans, graham crackers, liquid nitrogen (OK, that's a little weird), chocolate truffle and balls?? Mmmmmm....balls. This will be the fourth year for the Big Tex Choice Awards. Previous year's entries have included Fried Coke, Fried Pralines, Fried Macaroni and Cheese (Waiter!), Fried Lattes, Fried Avocados and/or Fried Guacamole, and Fried Cosmopolitans. I have no idea how the things that are liquid are fried and I can't even begin to envision a scenario that would allow them to be fried. But all of this is very, very good to know. Either that or it's very, very bad to know. Hard to say. Depends on whether I'm in Texas when the State Fair is going on.

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