The Texas State Fair is home to some of the most
outside-the-box fried inventions you can imagine. If it can be deep-fried, one of the fair vendors has probably done it. This goes way beyond the everyday deep-fried Oreos or Coke (both so 2007). Food vendors have fried (and won awards for!) jello, bacon cinnamon buns, entire Thanksgiving dinners, bubblegum, beer, butter, cookie dough, lattes, and jambalaya.
I decided to attend this year and
eat the strangest things I could find. It was a test for both my taste buds and my stomach, to see how much over-the-top, greasy food they could take. Ahead, a look at the most creative and outrageous dishes I found at the Texas State Fair.
Deep-Fried Sriracha When I walked past the booth selling these little nuggets, I knew I had to try them. They tasted and looked as if someone had deep-fried a chicken enchilada with squirts of sriracha distributed throughout, to add little bursts of heat. The external crust also included cornflakes for crunch. Despite its look, the finished product was more of a fritter, texturally, than I expected. The heat didn't kick in right away — I was halfway through the first ball before my mouth went up in flames. Good thing I purchased a bottle of water to go with this order.
Deep-Fried Froot Loops If you can't imagine what deep-fried cereal might look like, think of a fried Pop Tart, with a mushy interior. The process involves making a pastry pocket that holds the cereal in place. Then, the whole thing is deep-fried. In this case, the Froot Loops inside the pastry pocked get mushy and partially melted, leaving imprints of their various fruity flavors all over the soft interior pastry. The end result is a pastry that is super sweet, and weirdly delicious.
Deep-Fried Mozzarella Sticks Wrapped In Bacon This is a simple idea: take mozzarella string cheese, lightly bread it, wrap bacon around it, and drop the whole thing into a fryer. It is, of course, delicious because it's bacon and cheese — two great tastes that taste great together. The cheese could be softer on the inside, but that's tricky because obviously it would melt completely if left in the fryer too long without additional batter. It might have been better served simply as a mozzarella cheese stick wrapped in bacon. It's served with a tartar dipping sauce on the side, for a little East Texas flavor.
Deep-Fried Banana Pudding I had to order this, because I couldn't even imagine what it would look like or how deep-frying pudding works. Turns out, a pastry with a crepe-like texture becomes the shell and banana pudding is dropped inside. The whole thing is then folded, deep-fried, and garnished with whipped cream and powdered sugar. Spoiler alert: Pudding does not fry well. The classic texture that you would associate with pudding gets lost, but the deep-fried banana slices on their own are a symphony for the mouth.
Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger This item was a must-try because it won the 2017 Big Tex Choice Award for Best Taste in the "Savory and Most Creative" category. And, because it you would never think these ingredients could possibly work together. Two funnel cakes (which are essentially deep-fried dough) serve as buns with a hamburger patty, bacon, and that yellow cheese that is served on top of movie theater nachos (I won't get into how that's technically not queso to a Texan, but it isn't) sandwiched in-between. The whole thing is then covered with powdered sugar and I wish you the best of luck picking it up without the melted cheese burning your fingers. This item certainty has its flaws, but what you want to know is how it tastes: again, weirdly addictive. The mix of savory and sweet here is impressive albeit odd. It's a once-in-a-lifetime bite because there's no way anyone needs to eat this more than once.