The old man wanted me to post this picture with the caption "The ultimate in local eating." So here goes.
The ultimate in local eating.
This was from the miracle of birth center at the State Fair. Those piglets were something like nine days old. All the mothers were just laying on their sides, half asleep while the piglets furiously rooted and sucked, sucked and rooted.
It made me crave pork chops and bacon.
Fortunately, I was at the State Fair where pork products are abundant. After visiting (warning: gratiutous use of the best beauty contest name ever) Princess Kay of the Milky Way, we headed to the porkchop on a stick stand. Porkchop on a stick was one of the first things I had had at the State Fair many years ago when I visited with my sister, her husband, and our friend, Jess. It was delicious and gave me the impression that every food item at the State Fair is solid, simple, delicious street food. I was mistaken.
Last year I made the mistake of trying something new. The week before I went to the State Fair I had read about the Ufda Brat -- a brat wrapped in lefse (Norwegian potato flat bread) with mashed potatoes and sauerkrat. I love brats. I love mashed potatoes. I love sauerkraut. I love lefse. Why wouldn't I love an Ufda Brat? I wouldn't love the Ufda Brat because it was a bland, flavorless goo. It was as if they thought that because they were packing so much stuff into each Ufda Brat, they needn't use any salt. Big mistake. You always need to use salt.
This year, I vowed to stick with the tried and true. I was not disappointed. Porkchop on a stick is an incredibly simple, spicy, salty porkchop grilled with a jerk-like rub and stuck on a stick for easy, portable enjoyment. Here I am enjoying it in front of the snake zoo.
Eric got a corn dog, like he always does and I had a bite, like I always do. So far the vow to only eat the tried and true was working out.
At the day wore on, I started to feel my defenses weaken.
Perhaps it was my Al Franken sighting.
Perhaps it was the seed art depicting Barack Obama in a quaint Sambo-like way. (Maybe it's just one of the constraints of the art form?)
Perhaps at was registering to vote. (We moved which means we had to re-register.)
Perhaps it was the totally random Loreal tent that was plopped down right next to the eco-building and the church coffee stand and was pumping techno over its totally State Fair inappropriate red carpet.
The sights and sounds of the State Fair must have gotten to me because suddenly I had the urge to break my vow and try something new. We made a beeline for Famous Dave's.
Pig Lickers had been the talk of the State Fair. Bacon dipped in chocolate. Need I say more? Yes I do.
A few years ago, I celebrated New Year's Eve with my friends Yas and Dean in DC. Yas is a pastry chef. A great pastry chef. For dinner they had cooked up a lovely honey baked ham. For dessert, Yas had melted a giant bowl of chocolate and laid out a tray of cut fruit and her amazing olive oil pound cake. We dunked and ate -- lucious chocolate dripping off of sweets -- and enjoyed our 1970s fondue flashback. We ate more and drank more and the menfolk got to talking about how much they love ham and other pork products. Someone pulled the ham back out.
More chaos ensued and in a "your chocolate's in my peanut butter" moment, bits of ham ended up getting dipped and eventually drenched in the chocolate. Most of the rest of the evening consisted of Dean sitting on the floor next to the coffeetable moaning with pleasure over the bowl of the now grease-stained chocolate.
A few years later, I was at another gathering at Yas and Dean's house. I'm not sure if the inspiration was that New Year's Eve, but Yas had refined the bacchanal experience into a neat little truffle. Peanut butter, chocolate, and bacon. In a word? Yum. She'd been making the truffles for the cafe where she worked and they flew off the shelves -- and with good reason. A perfect combo of salty and sweet.
I was hoping too recreate the whole experience at the State Fair with these little guys.
No such luck.
The problem with the ham dipped chocolate of New Year's Eve was that the warm ham grease ended up in the warm chocolate. But on New Year's Eve with a few drinks, no one seems to mind.
The problem with the pig lickers is the opposite: in order to keep the chocolate solid, the whole thing has to be stored and served cold. The result is that the bacon is congealed. It is possible, apparently, to ruin mother nature's candy.
The congealed ham completely threw me off my game because then I went and tried something else new (to me). Smores on a stick are gooey marshmallow and chocolate neatly contained in a graham cracker dough shell. Good in theory. Gross in reality. Nothing redeeming about this. The dough was sour (but not in a good way) and undercooked. I took a bite. And then another just to make sure it was really as bad as I thought it was. And then I threw it away. I should have done what Eric did and just gotten a butter sugar lefse.
He's so much happier with his sweet treat than I was with mine. Even the guy behind him covets the lefse. At least it looks like he's coveting something.
Next year I'm sticking to: porkchop on a stick, walleye on a stick, corndogs, lefse, and honey ice cream and maybe mini donuts. I promise.