Monday, October 3, 2011

Top Ten Fair Foods: Fair Fare at the Fair

We happened upon a billboard last weekend that read, “See a Monkey Ride a Dog!” The billboard picture was of a monkey in a little red fez, probably a New Era size two-and-three-eights, riding a saddled dog.

This can mean only two things.

One, somewhere, there’s a very mad dog.

Two, it’s carnival time! Which can mean only one thing.

One, let’s rate the Top 10 Carnival Foods!

Even as we speak you’ve got your Red River Revel in Shreveport, which is more art and craft than merry-go-’round and taffy pull. (“See a Monkey Paint a Dog!”) I love me some Revel.

And the State Fair of Louisiana, which is more “mainstream” and animal-oriented, opens in less than a month (Oct. 27) on the Fairgrounds in Shreveport, site of the toughest interview of my career: The Headless Woman. Hard to get quotes from the Headless Woman. Just sayin’…

The “See a Monkey Ride a Dog!” billboard was in Tupelo, Miss. where the Tupelo Fair ends, most unfortunately, today. It was only a four-day fair because, well, you know what they say about “too much of a good thing…”

Plus, four days was all the Dog Union Local No. 7 (No. 49 in dog union years) would agree to.

What most of us would agree on is that carnival food is worth a roll of the dice at some point. I’m not talking about the school or church booth where you buy food from people you know; I am a big fan of these booths. I’m talking about the carnival food from the lighted culinary kitchens that flavor the midway, the diners on wheels. It’s a gamble, but carnival food is one of the A’s in “America,” (and, some would argue, in antacid.)

10. Turkey Leg: This is a “shout out” for the old souls, you peeps who cater to carnival fare first made popular in the Middle Ages. I can’t do a turkey leg. Feels too medieval. I see someone eating a turkey leg and wonder what castle wall they just climbed or what peasant village they’ve plundered. Ever tried to get barbecue sauce out of chainmail? I would have hated to have been a turkey around King Arthur’s time, back when everybody carried a battle axe, a sword, a dagger and a flail, even just taking out the trash.

9. Candy Apple: Harder to eat than lobster. To me, the payoff’s not there.

8. Pretzel: I will eat little ones on a plane but this is strictly boredom eating in my book. Even with cheese dip. Pretzel lovers swear by them. Eat and let eat, I say.
7. Cotton Candy: Outgrew it.

6. Sno Cone: Too messy. The paper cup always gives up too quickly. A very unforgiving “fun” food.

5. Popcorn: Well now we’re getting somewhere. It’s vanilla, I know. But I love the classics.

4. Anything on a Stick: Except a turkey leg. Turkey meat, maybe. Dead chicken. I would stand in line for a pork chop on a stick. (Someone should make meat sticks and you could eat the whole thing.)

3. Lemonade: Refreshing!

2. Corn Dog: A hot dog and crispy corn bread. Two of my faves. It ain’t peanut butter and jelly or Conway and Loretta, but as a duo, it’s not bad.

1. Funnel Cake: With powdered sugar. Hot. Crispy. If a funnel cake were meat, it’d be bacon. To paraphrase Kramer from “Seinfeld,” it’s like a carnival in your mouth.