Fair food has a reputation: a greasy, nasty reputation. It’s something that a number of Americans look forward to come the summer time. I have never spent a day at a state fair, much to my regret since I spent some time in Iowa. Small, local fairs are often the only chance to get a variety of foods like funnel cakes and regional favorites like fried butter at the Iowa State Fair. This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting the Delaware State Fair where the food offered had a special flare to it.
I have never been to a proper state fair before Saturday when I pulled up to the Delaware State Fair. Overhead, a tour helicopter circled the fair. The sun was startingto come out from behind the clouds and giving the large field it’s heat. Luckily, it was a mild summer day that we chose to visit the food vendors.
My husband had already made a visit for his job, so he was able to guide me to a few stand outs among the myriad of specialties present in the area. Many local vendors appeared, but we went first to a stand called Dragon Breath. You’ve seen things like what they do in facebook videos: those crazy videos of people breathing out liquid nitrogen ‘smoke’ after eating one thing or another. They do it with corn puffs that are frozen in liquid nitrogen.
Dragon Breath came in cheese curl flavors or fruit flavors, and of course I chose the fruit flavor. It was a really interesting experience. This wasn’t something I would find in the midwest where I grew up. Letting out a icey breath as I crunched down on what essentially tasted like fruit loops was really fun. They presented it in a cup with a skewer, and that made it a great snack for walking around the fair.
To accompany it, I had my first taste of gator at the fair. Gator was a protein we could also get in the midwest, but I never had the courage to try it. There were a few vendors at the Balloon Fest in my hometown that had it, but never did I see it paired with a mac and cheese like it was here at the Delaware State Fair.
My husband spoke highly of it, so of course I had to order it. The texture of the gator was not what I expected. It’s one of those proteins people will tell you tastes like chicken. Maybe it does under certain cooking preparations, but the texture of it on my tongue definitely differentiates it from chicken. I wouldn’t call it tough, but I find it to be dryer than chicken normally would be. The spice mix that the vendor applied to it before laying it over a delicious mac and cheese covered up the dryness some and made it easier to handle.
There were, of course, a variety of dessert vendors all about the grounds. My husband went on the hunt for an icecream while I went looking for literally anything else. I found a cupcake truck near the central food vendor circle and grabbed a bacon maple cupcake and a reese's cupcake. I let my husband have that bacon maple one while I went for the peanut butter cup one. I absolutely love peanut butter cups, and despite the humidity, the icing of the cupcake did not suffer much. I imagine they kept it cold inside before applying it to the cupcake itself and handing it to me out the window.
The State Fair closed on the 28th, but it’ll come back around next year. Keep an eye out for your local fairs and support the vendors that show up. Many of them are local, and those that travel almost always have something special to share with you. It’s a rarity of the summer worth capturing while you have the chance.
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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