For many people, the county fair brings to mind fond childhood memories of thrilling rides, crazy loops around the fun house and the smell of goat manure in the morning. There really is nothing quite like it. Except for the smell coming from the food stalls. Stalls? Yes, because that’s where throngs of hungry animals - the two-legged variety - go to graze on stick food. The Stick Diet is the only one I’ve ever stuck to.
I like to open my four-day diet plan with a deep-fried artichoke heart on a stick. It is a strange concept, as it is kind of a strange thing, the heart of an artichoke. Only in America would someone take something unique and exotic, pierce it with a piece of wood, fry the life out of it and sell it for a profit. Speaking of profit, just what is the mark-up on cotton candy? Last time I glanced at my recipe card for the space-age looking stuff, there was just one word on it: Sugar. Is it a recipe if there’s only one ingredient? I mean, is there a recipe for banana? Anyway, if you really want to get technical and count air as an ingredient, then you might actually have a recipe for cotton candy. How much are they making on that stuff? Whatever it is, it’s way too much. It does however, come on a stick and therefore, I get to eat it.
And who doesn’t like corn dogs? Well, my mom, for starters. She hasn’t eaten a corn dog since she was 8-years-old, when she consumed the original stick-food at our very own county fair. Let’s just say it wasn’t the last she saw of it…There is one thing I never consume at the fair, and that’s candy or caramel apples. Too healthy. It does contain the required stick, and therefore part of the diet plan, but the presence of that apple, all natural and juicy and obviously grown on a tree just ruins the whole experience. One would have to consume a helluva lot of fry bread to cancel out a crisp, fresh apple. Even corn-on-the-cob gets stuck with a stick, and really just barely qualifies due to the natural nature of corn itself. The saving grace is that it’s slathered in butter and doused with salt. It could only be better if it was fried.
Asian food has gone stick also, with the introduction of the eggroll on a stick just a few years ago. I remember seeing that little hut for the first time and wondering what happens when you bite into a bunch of shredded cabbage on a stick? Doesn’t it just fall apart? My guess is that cabbage isn’t the main ingredient, but most likely some meat product is, one that packs nicely around the little wooden spear. I passed on that one.
If only someone can figure out how to put nachos on a stick, I could add them to the Stick Diet. Maybe if I load them into my mouth with a stick borrowed from the deep fried mushroom stand, it would qualify…