A visit to the annual California State Fair is a perfect way to spend a few peaceful days communing with nature. You can visit the animals at the petting zoos, take a leisurely-paced hike through the woods, or settle into an outdoor classical concert in the soft purple of the setting sun.
The state fair has all that, but it's really about over-the-top extreme events. Things like motocross demonstrations, UFC fighter meet-and-greets, and musical acts like Bret Michaels and Joan Jett(!) blasting your faces off. Oh, and also the most extreme and insane culinary creations of the year.
Here, then, are the "best" foods that this year's state fair has to offer:
Jack Daniel's-Soaked Churros
At the booth for The Bacon Habit is, as one writer put it, something that's "hard to say whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner." It's a churro that's been soaked in Jack Daniel's bourbon, wrapped in bacon, barbecued, and served with maple syrup and whipped cream on top. No doubt your stomach will be confused as well. The same booth also sells something called the Caveman Turkey Leg, which is the classic fair offering with a twist. And that twist is one pound of bacon wrapped around it.
The World's Hottest Ice Cream
Cardinelli is serving scoops of ice cream that's been made with a blend of "ghost peppers" (certified in 2007 by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's hottest pepper, over 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce), and Trinidad moruga scorpion chili peppers (certified by New Mexico State University as the world's hottest pepper in 2012). It's so spicy, you need to be over 18 years old to buy it.
Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger from Stuffie's Char-Broiler
This off-menu item is a cheeseburger stuffed with macaroni and cheese (which, right there, is probably enough) that's held together between Krispy Kreme doughnuts. It may only cost a little under $12, but that price doesn't take into account the loss of your dignity.
Fat Darrell from Eat at Joe's
Here's a sandwich with some history. At Rutgers University is a food truck named "R U Hungry?" that has a special food challenge. If you can eat five of their "fat" sandwiches in 45 minutes, you get to name and create your own sandwich. Back in 1997, a student named Darrell W. Butler completed the challenge, and created the Fat Darrell sandwich, consisting of fried chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, fries, and marinara sauce on a bun. And now you can try one at the California state fair.
Deep-fried Twinkie Filled with a Hot Dog
There's a level of complicity that comes with simply writing a list like this. If I mention an over-the-top food creation and give it publicity, I'm essentially becoming part of the problem. So, for this selection, I'm not going to tell you what booth sells it. If you really want to eat one, at the very least I can hope you burn off a few calories as you search the fairgrounds trying to find it.
Because I can't in good conscience list the craziest things without providing some kind of actual worthwhile exhibitions to visit -- as Pink Floyd put it, how can you have any pudding if you don't eat ya meat? -- here are five other events/exhibits taking place:
- Expo Building 3 has an exhibit commemorating 150 years of the California State Parks.
- "Fermentation Sensation" at the Save Mart Supermarkets California Kitchen is an exhibit that teaches fair-goers how to brew their own wine and beer.
- "California's Don't Waste" in Building A is a hands-on exhibit showing how to conserve water in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room.
- The Farm contains three acres with over 70 crops that are grown in California. The exhibit contains gardening tips, recipes for how to use these crops, and even an insect pavilion.
- The California Forest Center is a nature trail with 40 native species of California trees shading your path.
The fair goes until July 27th, so make sure to start planning your road trip today. And maybe don't eat anything for about 48 hours before arriving.
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