Fried foods return with fair

Graham C Wheat, Editor in Chief

The smell of cotton candy in the air was palpable, sweet corn roasting, lines forming for Boy Scout baked potatoes stretched across Main St.

Fried food gourmands rejoice, your pilgrimage has arrived for two weeks.

As the one of the main attractions at the Kern County Fair, beyond concerts and drinking, the array of treats sweet and salty was showcased well in 2013. Although some more obscure options, like fried Kool-Aid balls, didn’t make a come back this year there was plenty of options to choose from. Some old favorites returned, and a few new food oddities made their debut.

At noon I entered the fair prepared with a stack of antacids and plenty of water, preparing myself for the fried food binge I was about to undertake. Upon immediate entry into the fair, the wafting smell of savory barbecue and sweet delights had my taste buds at attention.

I wanted to jump “whole hog” so to speak into the weird arena, so I went with chocolate covered bacon as my starter for the adventure. Mac’s, which is located on the main street to the right of the entrance, across from Boy Scouts of America stand, had a 10-minute queue for the ice cream treats so I was hopeful for the sweet-savory concoction.

To start, the chocolate-covered bacon was cold and from a fridge (although upon reflection I don’t know another way it could be served), the bacon was cold and soft with a passable chocolate shell. The fatty content of the bacon had sort of gelatinized and that was an unpleasant experience. When I did get a crispy bit, it was indeed savory but overpowered by the sub-par chocolate. After shelling out $5 for this, I was reticent about the rest of the odd food.

So discouraged was I that I had to eat part of a delectable baked potato to regain my confidence about the day. Many fair goers for good reason know the Boys Scouts of America baked potatoes, and it is wonderful how something so simple can be so delicious. Simply a large russet potato wrapped in foil with your choice of toppings (from the likely fair of butter and chives to deep pit barbecue) is available for upwards of $7. At the outset of the fair, the line was already starting to crowd the main drag of the fair. The half of a baked potato I had was moist, buttery and filling. Exactly what I needed to regain my fortitude.

Another simple and filling choice that can feed numerous people is also located on the main street, more toward the agriculture section. Joe’s Fry Shack?!?!?!?!?!  has a chili cheese curly fry that does not disappoint.

Although it is $9.50 for the order, there is an option for seven dollars with no chili or cheese but that would be a travesty to this glorious brick of fries. The sheer spectacle of the pound of curly french fries smothered in warm cheese and chili is worth it. It is quite literally a cinder of potato, orange cheesy   and savory chili goodness. With a little salt and pepper, this easily fed four hungry college students. Its only improvement would have been extra chili and cheese, but I wasn’t willing to fork over another $2.50.

Do not be fooled by the imposter “spiral fries” that are located closer to the east entrance. This is merely a paper plate of curly fries that doesn’t come close to inducing the same reactions as the aforementioned brick of fries.

After proper digestion time, I had a hankering for another sweet indulgence.  To the delight of many, this year fried Twinkies are back. I can assure you, if you like Twinkies you will like this version of them. I also wanted to try something that I hadn’t tried in the sweet category. Deep fried peaches were the order. Acquired on the Midway in the same places that sell the deep fried Twinkies, this treat was a pleasurable one. Peaches, what I think were canned, covered in batter and plopped into golden hot oil, then dusted with cinnamon and sugar, covered in whipped cream. Although the peach to batter ratio was too high, the warm peaches made up for it. It was almost like an instant peach pie. Fresh peaches would have been nice, but I still enjoyed them.

Plenty of options for indulgence are available at the fair. From Greek and Italian food to fried candy bars, you can find something to tickle your taste buds. Be prepared to put out some cash as the price range is ridiculously high ($11.50 for a funnel cake!), but since it comes but once a year most people will be able to manage.