Fair food at Dallas, Texas
Just when you thought pizza couldn’t get any unhealthier, they gone deep-fried it. Not that it seems out of place at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. Deep-frying the food is pretty much mandatory at the food stalls, which could give you a coronary from just reading the menu. Deep-fried cookie dough, deep-fried salsa and even deep-fried beer are all on offer.
The fair’s annual food awards recognise the art that is dunking something perfectly edible into a huge vat of oil until it tastes just like batter and grease. This year the best taste award went to the buffalo chicken in a flapjack while the most creative gong was given to fried bubblegum, which narrowly beat the deep fried pineapple upside down cake.
“Oh, it’s just fair food”, people tell us. “You only eat it once a year”, they insist. It seems reasonable until you glance at their waistline and make the obvious assumption that they must come to the fair every day of its three week run.
Trying to avoid the grease, I choose to go out of the frying pan and into the fire with my meal – an entire turkey leg. Drumstick grasped in my hands, fat dribbling down my arms, I feel like a caveman as I rip into the salty flesh. When man first discovered fire, how was he to know it would one day be used in such a way by obese Americans?
The Texas State Fair in Dallas
The State Fair of Texas is the biggest in the United States with more than 2.5 million visitors each year. Men saunter through the stalls with ten gallon hats while their children waddle after them with what look like ten gallon sodas; teenage couples eat huge bowls of ice cream as they wait for rides; while the young guys, hoping to be in a couple, try to impress the girls with their abilities at the sideshow games.
In the centre of the massive showground, the country’s largest ferris wheel stands at 65 metres. Around it, other rides induce fear, screams, and presumably a second viewing of some of those deep-fried treats. The sideshow operators lure in customers to bowl for glory, bang rubber chickens into pans (probably to later be dumped into boiling oil) and shoot at a variety of targets (because who would want to restrict anyone’s right to bear arms).
At one end of the complex we find a mechanical bull to ride, at another end we find disappointment because Pat Benatar has cancelled her concert due to injury, and in another corner we find the highlight of the day – the pig racing.
If y’all ain’t seen pig racing before, then y’all missing out. Four little hogs get dressed up in racing silks, let out of the cage, and then rush around a track to the plate of Oreo biscuits at the other end. It’s a bit like horse racing but without the gambling, the glamour or the dignity. The poor little things are even given names like ‘Arnold Schwarzenhoggor’ and ‘Sylvester Staloin’.
The annual fair is about more than just rides and a potential grease-induced heart attack. It’s meant as an event that brings the community together and lifts the spirits. Most local schools and businesses even give people a day off just so they can go there. Texas has the second biggest economy in the US but it’s still suffering from its own problems with an unemployment rate at nearly 10 per cent, no local as president for three years, and an influx of Qantas planes since the airline moved its hub to Dallas.
The alleys that radiate from the ferris wheel are supposed to also radiate a sense of warmth and well-being through those who walk along them. And that, to use an Aussie phrase, is fair dinkum.
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