The Arizona State Fair is like a junk food fiend's fantasy come true. Just about every booth is selling an item that's deep fried. The rest of the offerings are probably covered in bacon. And for the most part, the dishes will always be oversize, calorific, and pricey.
For all these reasons, it's probably a good thing the Arizona State Fair only swings through town once a year. From a deep-fried Nutella bacon pickle to a colorful and tasty pineapple bowl, here are five foods you should consider trying at the 2016 Arizona State Fair.
Mowie Wowie Pineapple Bowl
Look forward to a halved pineapple that's filled with a layer of white rice, Hawaiian salad, your choice of protein (we picked grilled chicken) covered in a teriyaki-blend sauce and sesame seeds — all of which is surrounded by slices of pineapple. The dish is sweet, savory, and texture-rich. In keeping with fair food though, it's still more than enough for one or two people. This colorful, oversize dish is ideal for those searching for lighter fair food, but be careful not to drop it on your way to the nearby picnic tables. We'd also recommend mixing all the ingredients together. If you scarf down all the protein too quickly, you'll just be left with white rice and salad.
Bacon-Wrapped French Toast Bombs
Eating bacon at the state fair is a must, and these morsels will satisfy your craving for it. Each bite-size fried ball is wrapped in a thin strip of bacon, dusted with sugar, and filled with cream cheese. The entire thing is topped with a heaping dollop of whipped cream and maple syrup. These bite-size poppers are crispy, sweet, and savory. After plenty of way-too-large-to-finish portions, we were grateful for this reasonably sized offering.
Deep-Fried Caramel Macchiato
Frying anything liquid has got to be a challenge. To combat that task, the folks at the Funnel Lot stand take a blend of coffee and other ingredients, roll them up into a ball, and then freeze it. The entire concoction is then wrapped in dough and fried, according to a sign taped to the stand's cash register. The deep fried caramel macchiato features three fried bite-size pieces served in a coffee cup and topped with whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. The center of each one is filled with a thick dark brown sauce that's sweet from the caramel but tempered by the undeniably bitter taste of coffee. These are nicely balanced, and a welcome addition to the competitive deep-fried food market at the fair.
Deep Fried Butter
Can you think of a more classic example of fair food than deep-fried butter? We sure can't. And we're glad we gave this one a shot. Eating deep fried butter is like eating a extra buttery pancake that's been turned inside out. Yes, the butter will probably spill out when you bite into the fried shell. And this is rich, no doubt about it; the toothpick stuck in the fried butter couldn't support the weight of the entire ball. But if you're searching for a decadent treat, this will do just the trick. The vendor will ask if you want maple syrup on this (powdered sugar is a given), and we'd suggest saying "yes."
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Bacon Nutella Pickle
First things first: this sounds way more intense than it actually is. This odd combination is designed to stand out and is one of the most novel offerings at this year's fair. Expect two deep-fried pickle halves that are surrounded by a crunchy deep fried shell. Beneath that layer is a hollowed-out juicy pickle that's filled with a bacon and Nutella spread. The bacon bits are so small you can barely taste them. You can definitely detect the Nutella, but fans of the spread will notice that it's been watered down. Eating this is a little challenging. The fried bottom of the pickle fell out, meaning the sauce in the middle spilled out — defeating the entire purpose of the dish. We felt like the pickle and fried layer surrounding it really dominated the dish and made the bacon and Nutella spread feel like little more than a garnish. But all the different elements do taste good, even if they don't complement each other well. This isn't a bad dish, but it's also not great. But fair food is all about being weird, and this dish is about as weird as they come. Plus, next time you have the, "What's the strangest food you've ever eaten?" conversation with your friends, you can chime in with this.
Bonus: In case you were wondering, this is what a deep-fried banana split looks like. The banana and some of the ice cream scoops are fried.
The Arizona State Fair is open from Wednesday through Sunday through October 30. For more information, visit the Arizona State Fair's website.