October 3, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Deep Fried What on a Stick?

"...people who go to state fairs and eat this stuff are just plain crazy"

By Lynn Cline

Gourmet Girl

Lynn Cline is a former food editor and the author of two books – Romantic Days and Nights in Santa Fe and Literary Pilgrims: The Santa Fe and Taos Writers' Colonies, 1915-1950. She also loves to cook, when not dining out.

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 Deep Fried What on a Stick?

Well, the annual state fair has come and gone, and this year the food outdid itself. Deep fried cheesecake, hamburgers served on a donut and other crazy concoctions sold like hotcakes, and are often the reasons people attend state fairs.

I got to wondering what other kinds of outrageous foods were served at this year's state fairs, so I did a little poking around on the interwebs and discovered that people who go to state fairs and eat this stuff are just plain crazy.

Chicken-fried bacon won the State Fair of Texas food contest, while spaghetti and meatballs on a stick was a hit at the Minnesota State Fair. In Indiana, pizza cones were all the rage and in California, Krispy Kreme chicken sandwiches were bestsellers. Hot beef sundaes, made of mashed potatoes, slow-roasted beef and Cheddar cheese is like a Sunday dinner all in itself.

Other top state fair food includes fried ice cream sandwiches, fried butter, deep-fried beer, deep-fried Kool-Aid, fried salsa, pulled pork parfaits, deep-fried Frito pie and deep-fried bubblegum.

Deep-fried Twinkies have been a staple at state fairs for awhile now, along with huge turkey legs but something I've never heard of won the Most Creative category at the 2006 State Fair of Texas, and it represents a new level of creativity in state fair food—Fried Coco Cola, a concoction of batter and Coca Cola syrup, whipped cream and cinnamon sugar. Also over the top is Key Lime Pie-on-a-Stick, a frozen slice of creamy pie dipped melted dark chocolate. It's like a popsicle, only better. So while the state fair season is over, we can relish the memories all the fair food we consumed this year, and dream of all the new inventions to come next year.

Food and Fine Wine

So I made it to the Grand Tasting event at the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta last weekend, where the display of inventive creations and stellar wine was truly impressive.

This was the first time for me at this event in more than a decade. And while the location was the same, the size seemed to have mushroomed over the years, with multiple tents serving food from 75 restaurants and pours from more than 100 wineries.

Fiesta-goers rode a shuttle from downtown to the Santa Fe Opera grounds, where white tents dotted the landscape, live music filled the air and food and wine flowed liberally. It was a gorgeous late fall afternoon, and crowds packed the tent, lining up to taste short ribs with polenta from Ristra, veal tongue with goat cheese tarts from Il Piatto, butternut squash soup from Jamba Café, grilled lamb chops from Geronimo, profiteroles from Andiamo and much, much more.

The event was packed, and it's easy to see why it sells out every year. As I rode the shuttle back down into Santa Fe, taking in the gorgeous mountain views, stuffed to the gill and feeling like the way you do after eating a Thanksgiving meal, I gave thanks for all the local ingredients grown in our area, all the creative chefs, and, of course, the formidable chile that lends so much to our culture and our cuisine.

Celebrate the Harvest

If you've never crushed grapes, strung ristras or made tortillas, be sure to check out the annual Harvest Festival at El Rancho de las Golondrinas this Saturday, October 6 and Sunday, October 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A living history devoted to Spanish Colonial culture and life, the museum offers a look back at old New Mexico and ways that the harvest was celebrated a few centuries ago.

This family-oriented event also features wagon rides, storytelling with Joe Hayes, archery, old time music, folk ballet, art demos, retablo and stamping workshops and more. C'mon out and have a good time celebrating the harvest from another era. For more info, go to www.golondrinas.org.

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