Stayed Too Long at the Fair

No matter how committed you are to eating right, sometimes you just need to cut loose. I visited the New York State Fair over the weekend, and while it would have been very easy to make healthy choices, that would have been a complete drag — not just for me but for everyone around me.

Having resolved to eat my way from one end of the sprawling fairgrounds to the other, I set off.

The highlight? Deep fried pickles from a stand called Tiki Turtle. These came to us hot and crispy with a creamy dipping sauce. They were perfect — and I dare say somewhat healthy. After all, that’s a vegetable under the coating, right?

fried pickles

The worst thing I ate was a Philly cheesesteak from Santillos’s Sausage. There are two lessons to be learned: first, if “sausage” is in the vendor’s name, just order the sausage. Second, don’t get something called “Philly” in Syracuse. It was a soggy and bland mess, so awful that I could barely eat the whole thing.

Among other things I remember eating were a Hoffman’s Coney with sauerkraut, poutine (obviously a nod to our Canadian neighbors), a sausage burger, a pizza fritte stick (approximately two feet in length), and two very mediocre chicken empanadas.

Hoffman's Coney with kraut

The day’s greatest quest was to find deep fried cheese curds. It was almost 10pm and I was feeling tired and beaten down after being forced to listen to The Band Perry. Pop-country is excruciating, even more so when the lead singer throws a gratuitous “Hey New York” reference into every sentence of her stage banter. We were on the way to the car by the time we stumbled across the Fried Specialties booth.

Fried Specialties

The guy behind the counter warned one man, someone who ordered deep fried peanut butter and jelly, to wait a minute because “the jelly is boiling.” That’s a advice you don’t ignore. When our cheese curds arrived they were surprisingly light and fluffy; they reminded me of a zeppole — without the powdered sugar — with a cheesey inside.

Stuffed to the gills, we waddled off to find the car. On my list of things to do next year? The donut burger. And more fried pickles.

2 thoughts on “Stayed Too Long at the Fair

    1. JES, I was inspired by your wonderful account of the Iowa Fair, which I imagine must be the Mecca of state fairs. Having read your post and other tales of fair food, I needed to jump into the fray — but especially after seeing this story about the Iowa fair food in the NY Times: At the Fair, Do Calories on a Stick Count?

      Don’t skip the comments on this story! Dozens of righteous Times readers condemned the story as a celebration of unbridled gluttony and proof of everything wrong with America. It must be sad for those people not to be able to enjoy themselves and for one day set aside the dieting for a bit of indulgence.

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