They say that the best cultural experiences can be found in your own backyard, and there is no better place to get a strong dose of the deep South than the Texas State Fair.
The Texas State Fair claims to draw its origins back to January 30, 1886, when a group of business men formed the Dallas State Fair and Exhibition. From the cowboy boots to drawling accents to the collection of livestock on show, it’s been a whirlwind of activity that brings together the far-reaching peoples that populate this massive state.
The Texas State Fair also brings together a combination of ingredients and dishes with thick, golden oil in a deep-fried fantasy that only Texans could think up and devour with pleasure.
There is no denying that we all love fried dishes — just think back to the last fight over who got the crunchiest French fry in a dish shared amongst friends and family. There is so much joy that comes from the crunch with every bite into fried [insert favorite food here], and the juices that ooze out give our mouths and palates a delightful surprise. Fried calamari, fried chicken, and fried fish — these are just some staples that many have come to know and love around the country and the world.
Of course, Texas has added a new layer to all things fried.
In 2005, the Texas State Fair launched its first Big Tex Choice Awards with the challenge for concessionaries to create new and unique food items — and that they did. The Texas State Fair has become a pilgrimage for all things fried food, earning itself the title as the Fried Food Capital of Texas.
Texas has fried up a monstrosity of items that make fried butter seem more normal than ever. Over the years the state fair has seen concessionaries fry sandwiches, whole dinners, frozen drinks — you name it, it’s been fried, all in the name of creativity, ingenuity, and culinary advancement.
Yet the chefs of the South manage to set the bar higher each year, graduating to a level where they fry things you might think were un-friable (think liquids) and are so outlandish that you would exercise your YOLO rights to the utmost extreme just to get a taste.
If the past eight years of fried food frenzy are anything to go by, then the 2014 Texas State Fair, which will be held from September 28th to October 19th in Dallas, is something to look forward to.
We recommend at least a couple of days of fasting to prepare — and, of course, familiarizing yourself with the craziest foods ever fried in the Texas State Fair’s history.
Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll — 2012
I think we all can agree that the world would have done just fine without a fried bacon cinnamon roll, but Texas must have thought otherwise. This deep-fried cinnamon roll dipped in a sweet pancake batter, rolled in crispy fried bacon crumbles, deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar was featured at the Texas State Fair in 2012. Careful. You gained 50 pounds just by reading this.
Fried Jambalaya — 2012
No, we’re not-a-lyin’. This Fried Jambalaya at the 2012 Texas State Fair was made from scratch using shrimp, Cajun sausage, and a sprinkling of other seasonings. The year’s most creative dish, Fried Jambalaya is something that could only be done right down South.
Alexandra E. Petri is the travel editor at The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @writewayaround