I remember where I was the first time warm pastry pulled from bubbling oil and topped with heaps of powdered sugar touched my lips. It was the Covington County Fair in Andalusia, Ala. and I was about 7 years old. Now, more than 20 years later, that combination of dough and sweetness takes me back to my pigtailed, freckle-faced childhood in a instant.
Fair foods are associated with fun, with childhood, with adventure and with total abandon. They are things our parents would faint if they knew we used our $5 of fun money to buy and hide behind vendor booths as we devoured them before we were caught.
Funnel cake has to top my list. There’s just something about a pile of freshly cooked dough with the right amount of grease lingering on the crispness for the powdered sugar to stick to. Yum! Don’t try to be dainty when you eat it, though! Wear the sugar on your clothes proudly and right as your friend begins to take a bite…blow the sugar onto their face.
What’s better than junk food? Junk food on a stick! Sure, try to convince yourself because it’s an apple it is healthy. But as soon as the sticky caramel hits your tastebuds, the delusion is over. The other stick food that’s a favorite? Corn dogs. A friend once told me he hated corn dogs, unless he bought them at a fair. He swore the sweet cornbread was somehow more perfect.
There was a time I didn’t think Oreos and Twinkies could be any more delicious. I was so naive! Try them dipped in a gooey batter and deep fried then drizzled with chocolate. It’s not for the amateur sweets eater. You have to be a pro to enjoy the sugary goodness here. If you’re feeling adventurous, order a variety of fried junk food to sample.
The final item that’s a must on my fair menu varies from festival to festival. From fried mullet to sauteed rattlesnake and fruit pureed into an ice cream topping, the local fare a celebration may be famous for never disappoints!
Be adventurous, order boldly and grin from ear to ear as the sweet and salty tastes of carnival food reduce you to a 10-year-old trapped in an adult body. It’s totally worth it.