Like the teetotaler who gets drunk at her cousin’s wedding, I, a fairly healthy eater who really dislikes the taste of processed foods, went overboard at the North Carolina State Fair. I usually don’t. But this time I did.
I’d been working so hard for weeks and needed a big release. What could be bigger than our state’s huge annual fair, attended by some 878,000 people over 10 days.
Mostly we go for the agricultural exhibits (like you read Playboy for the fiction). But really, I love the giant pumpkins and watermelons and the well-kept cows and goats and chickens, and I so want one of those adorable miniature donkeys.
As we hit the first midway, I mentioned to Wessel how much I enjoyed our deep-fried pickles the last time.
“I don’t remember that,” he said. “I don’t think I had any.“
“Of course you did; how could you forget?” I said. “Look, there they are.” I pointed to a stand.
He had to “try” some. He couldn’t eat all six on his own, so I was enlisted to help.
And we were off.
Next on the list: the fair’s latest offering. No, not the deep-fried butter. The chocolate-covered bacon. (It’s actually a gourmet treat, though typically made with much finer meat and cocoa. My favorite truffle maker, Deans Sweets in Portland, Maine, keeps threatening to add them to his repertoire. Do it, Dean!)
I was starting to get panicked because I couldn’t find a chocolate bacon stand. Just as Wessel was trying to talk me down, there it was! And for only $3.50. The salty and sweet combined for a lip-smacking taste treat — on a stick, of course. Bacon and chocolate, meet pickle and grease.
Then came a shared cup of chilled apple cider as we watched a bluegrass band, which happened to be set up dangerously close to the kettle corn stand. At least I ordered a small.
When Wessel asked if I wanted my usual ham biscuit at one of the church fund-raising restaurants, I had enough sense to say no.
We took an eating interlude, midway- hopping until we reached “our” Ferris wheel, one of the three at the fair. It looks down on the always hoppin’ Himalaya, with fierce tunes blaring, and the crazy Pharaoh’s Fury, a Cleopatra-style open seated gondola sort of thing that swings back and forth at increasingly angular pitches. I would definitely not be able to hold down aforementioned delicacies. The Ferris wheel, on the other hand, is totally tame, some would say lame. I love it.
On the way out, Wessel finally ordered his long-awaited Italian sausage sandwich, with fries. At a certain point, he needed my assistance. Being the ever-supportive spouse, I obliged. Italian sausage and fries, meet kettle corn and chocolate bacon and ….
Need I mention that we skipped dinner?