To celebrate my birthday, ( it's not far from my Doctor's appointment- because remember I broke my arm in Massachussetts) my lovely wife and I made the trip out to West Springfield, MA and made a pilgrimage to The Big E. The Eastern States Exposition is like a state fair, but it's for six states. Each state has an exhibition hall to show off native products, exhibits , native drinks and foods. All of New England converges on Central Massachusetts to show off their giant pumpkins, apples, horses, and new ways to fry things.
And there's a Parade, with Clydesdales- the BUDWISER Clydesdales.
Corn dogs! Bacon CANDY! bacon bits.
Now, I have not been to the Texas State Fair to see the legendary Fried Food Capital of Texas, if not the world, but I would have to say that The Big E compares favorably. And by "favorably," I mean "will favorably increase your cholesterol count by 50 points."
At a state fair, or similar gustatory extravaganza, you need to pace yourself. A bite here, a bite there. Tell yourself that you're walking a lot so the calories don't count, or all the fried food will just slide right on through. You know, lie. Don't even pretend like you're going to be healthy about it. Just sit back and enjoy.
Here is a list of everything we (shared -1/2 the calories) ate on that glorious day:
- Fried Jelly Beans Awesome! Like zeppoli with little jelly pockets inside.
- Pierogi Just like Mom used to make, only with kielbasa in them.
- Root Beer Float w/ Black Raspberry Ice Cream Delectable!
- Clam Fritters From Rhode Island! Clams coated in a corn meal batter and fried. Kind of like corn dogs, but nautical!
- Del's Frozen Lemonade The Pride of Rhode Island!
- Loaded Baked Potato The Pride of Maine! Loaded here means butter, sour cream, cheese, chives, and bacon bits.
- Cabot Cheddar & Horseradish Cheese The Pride of Vermont!( ok we sampled some of their cheese - but we bought some to take home)FREE
- Cranberry Wine Tart and tasty!(also tiny sample cups for FREE)
- Kettle Corn
- MAPLE Kettle Corn (FREE Samples)
- MAPLE Cream Candy( a great bargain at 1$ and we shared a tiny cone that's all you need to be satisfied with Mapley goodness for an hour or two.
- MAPLE Cotton Candy (Did you know that New England makes a lot of maple syrup? They do!) This smiley man who looked like Santa kept shoving big samples at us when we walked by- go to the New Hampshire building- he was super nice! the other houses were a big stingy with theirs. :( So reward NH's generous and good attitude :) Yay New Hampshire!
- Watermelon Beer (From Opa Opa Brewery) Very refresshing and served with a wedge of watermelon floating in the beer.( we are lightweights when it comes to consuming beer- but they should just sell beer covered watermelon- we could have eaten lots of that!)
- Frozen Apple Cider
- Apple Cider Donut (Did you know that New England grows a lot of apples? They do!)
These are the things we were tempted to eat, but were either too full, too nervous, or lacking in cash to try so we did not try:
- Fried Kool-Aid The wife hates Cherry flavoring (artificial), which was the flavor they had. People at the fair said it tasted like a fruit punch donut.
- Fried Cheese Curds Having spent my college years in Canada, I have a soft (pudgy) spot for poutine. This is a concoction of french fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy. If you are very drunk, then this is very tasty and helps defeat the alcohol in your system by making you focus more on your indigestion. In New Jersey, they serve a variant called Disco Fries replacing the curds with shredded mozzeralla. The curds are denser and chewier and provide a more pleasing mouth feel, in my opinion. The fried curds were tempting, but I feared something like an acid flashback were I to eat them.
- Wild Game Burgers One stand offered gator burgers, deer, ostrich, and other kinds of game. We didn't see these till after we had gorged ourselves, or might have tried one. Remember, turkey burgers and bison burgers are fairly common these days, but once upon a time those who ate them were looked at with scorn and derision. Will gator snake burgers come to Mickey D's one day?
- Deep Fried Vegetables The loneliest stand at the fair. You'll never hear this exchange: "Mommy, can we have some fried broccoli?" "No dear. Now eat your fried dough."
- Red Velvet Funnel Cake Looked delicious, but it was a massive disc of dough and I was too strung out on sugar to consider it.
- Fried Butter Not just a joke Oprah invented. It's real.
- The Pork Sandwich at the Pork Palace- looked awesome but, just too full!
- WICKED WHOOPIE pies- my wife said we should get one for my birthday cake but we will get one next time- they make hand sized and birthday cake size- they had every flavor you could think of and one confetti swirl psychedelic colored manhole cover sized one that looked a little frightening, but beautifully so.
- Fry bread of many kinds.
- Apple pie with cheese- so many appley things to try- we shouldn't have missed this one. They also had a apple pie with a cheddar crust!
- Lobster Rolls- too expensive but they looked outstanding!
- 40 donuts for 5.00 - fresh off the belt. Just too full.
Many hours and calories later,after walking 80 miles or so, we headed home. Because of the broken elbow, I can't drive our stick shift car. (I wear this fancy sling during the day, and at night I am in a hard cast.) The only time I have been glad of not being able to drive, was the ride home. My lovely wife drove while I settled into a lovely food coma. I dreamt of happy, healthy singing fruits dancing in the woods, and then being lowered into a deep fryer and covered with cheese and sugar.
I like happy dreams.