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Megan Rossman, Photography Editor
Photo by JOHN JERNIGAN
Operation Eat A Lot
By Megan Rossman
September 11, 2014
It’s no secret that Oklahomans love a good meal. In 1988, the legislature even decreed an official one to circumvent any confusion about what constitutes good eatin’ in these parts. The hefty state-sanctioned spread is comprised of black-eyed peas, chicken-fried steak, cornbread, corn on the cob, okra, strawberries, sausage and gravy, barbecue pork, squash, biscuits, grits, and pecan pie. And, in case you’re curious, a separate piece of legislation declared the official beverage to be milk.
Beginning today, Oklahomans will bring their formidable appetites to the Oklahoma State Fair. There’s more food here than you can shake a stick at—and there’s probably food on that stick, too. This is the fair after all, where stick-supported foods are a tenet of a gastronomic experience that comes battered and deep-fried.
Here are a few reminders about what makes the Oklahoma State Fair such a popular dining experience:
Corn dogs—What’s better than a corn dog? A giant corn dog. This classic fair food is my favorite. It can be tough to find a place to sit down at the fair, and it’s tedious to dodge crowds while navigating a sloppy meal with your fork. The corn dog is an ingenious solution, designed with the fair-goer’s tribulations in mind. Just grip that big thing in your hand and get a move on. It won’t slow you down. It also provides additional emphasis when you point and gesture. Shake a corn dog at a man, and he will listen.
Turkey leg—Mother nature takes credit for this clever design. The turkey leg is another item of food that is easily clutched. You will look like a barbarian carrying it around, but who can dare to judge you here—the person eating taco-in-a-bag or the Bacon-Wrapped Jack Daniels Churro? This is a place where anything goes.
Funnel cakes—They’re not the easiest things to carry around, but a lot of people find they’re worth the trouble. There’s not much more I can say about funnel cakes. Ringlets of deep-fried batter piled on plates with powdered sugar and other toppings speak for themselves.
Elephant ears—In my youth, I enjoyed a few Elephant Ears at the Washington State Fair. Until I discovered this year’s handy State Fair Food Finder map, I thought they were a regional specialty lost to me forever, but you can buy them at the Elephant Ears concession stand in front of the Modern Living Building. An elephant ear is a large piece of fry bread smothered with butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Try one. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.
Bacon city—There is a theory that bacon is good in everything. The fair puts that theory to the test with culinary gambles like the Bacon Explosion Ice Cream Sundae and the bacon smoothie. If you’re not feeling experimental, stick with more traditional pairings like deep-fried cream cheese and bacon on a stick or bacon-wrapped chicken.
The edible offerings at the Oklahoma State Fair are vast and quite literally not for the faint of heart. If ingesting large amounts of fat keeps you up at night, rest easy. Greek salad, meat kabobs, frozen bananas, and other fruits and vegetables on sticks are available. Also worth noting is that there are a lot of state fair activities that don’t involve eating. Ride the Viking ship, visit the livestock, or play a carnival game. That having been said, I advise you to double-fist some corn dogs and live a little.