A Fair Food Primer

We here at Chowder love great food of all kinds, from romantic dinners at L’Espalier to ribs at Redbones. And one of our favorite places to eat is at the fair.

1220362177Now that summer is unofficially over, the New England fair season gets started in earnest. (The Big E starts on September 12, and the Topsfield Fair kicks off October 3.) This weekend, I went to the Hopkinton State Fair in Contoocook, New Hampshire for a day of petting goats, watching oxen pulls, and eating things I’d never dare eat under normal circumstances.

After the jump, we review the fair foods you must try, and the ones you’d do well to avoid.

Fried Snickers
These calorie bombs look like Chinese chicken fingers on a stick. The batter isn’t too sweet, so the candy bar really stands out. Timing is everything with this snack—bite into it too soon, and the melted candy bar falls off the stick. Wait too long, and the treat is a greasy, lukewarm mess.

(If you love fried foods but hate fairs, you can try fried Snickers at Tavern in the Square.)

Fried Oreos
This was the first time I’ve tried this particular fried dessert, and I was pleasantly surprised. Six Double-Stuff Oreos are battered and fried, and served up in a paper boat like clamcakes. The heat melts the white filling, and the cookie is still slightly cripsy underneath the batter. Just be sure you have someone to share them with—they sit in your stomach like a rock.

Maple Shake
I’m not sure if this is only available at New Hampshire fairs, but if you see it, be sure to sample it. The maple flavor wasn’t overpowering, and the shake was light and frothy. I’m glad I opted for this dairy treat, instead of a standard soft-serve cone.

Dog Bowl Fries
This is the best way to enjoy french fries at the fair. The thick cardboard makes for easy sharing, and the hand-cut fries are a nice treat once the sun goes down and there’s a chill in the air. Just be sure to grab some napkins—these guys are greasy.

“Turkey Legs”
A woman who sat in front of me at the demolition derby debated this with her husband. “They say it’s turkey, but it tastes like ham. It can’t be ham, because they say it’s turkey. But it tastes like ham.” If you don’t believe the food comes as advertised, perhaps it’s best to skip it.