In surveys taken at the Fair, people say again and again and again food is the top reason they come. And they certainly have plenty of options to choose from. Nearly 350 vendors have signed up for 2008 and a few more may be added before gates open Oct. 16. Now mind you, not every vendor is a food vendor, but there are hundreds of food booths to choose from.
What the Fair’s most famous for is good old Southern deep-fried fare, the inspiration behind this blog. Seriously, is there any kind of ho-ho or chocolate candy bar that hasn’t been dunked in oil? It’s always fun to guess what’s going to be the newest must-have treat. Well, a new one that we’ve found out will be at the Fair is deep-fried (are you surprised?) macaroni-n-cheese. A quick search online turned up a few tasty recipes for this dish. Paula Deen’s recipe included … butter, while another recipe called for Tabasco sauce.
Chef Vince Thomas, whose Chef’s Delight booth is near the Grandstand restrooms, wouldn’t divulge his secret ingredients, but he did mention a creamy marinara sauce for dipping that sounded delightful. For $5, you’ll get four or five mac-n-cheese cubes dipped in a special batter and deep fried to a golden brown. Thomas, who has already deep fried banana pudding and fruit cobblers, is fine-tuning recipes for future Fair creations. But, if I was a betting person, I’d guess it’ll be deep-fried, because as he put it, “I don’t think there’s any end to what you can deep fry.”
Having a “food hit” at the Fair can be a really big deal. Some of you may remember the deep-fried Coke that was a huge hit in 2006. We had reporters calling from England and Australia wanting to talk about the unique creation. If we hear of any other new creations coming, we’ll be sure to keep you posted.
CONTEST: In the meantime, we want to hear from you. Tell us what your favorite fair foods are. What are the not-to-be-missed foods that you enjoy every year? So what’s it worth to you? Respond by the end of the week and two lucky responders will get a 2008 tie-dye State Fair T-shirt. I’ll start: I stop by the mini-donut booth for a super-large cup of fresh-brewed iced tea almost every morning, and on a couple of days I’ll order up a bag of cinnamon and sugar mini-donuts (to share with my co-workers, of course. ;-)).