When Shari Danielson, our editorial director, recently asked me to share my "biggest food weakness," none immediately jumped to mind. Not too long ago, I might have answered conventional beef jerky, bad Asian food served in airports, unsustainable sushi, and/or gummy worms. But the joy of these foods has diminished over the past few years, and when given the choices these days, it's not that hard for me to pass.
My (amazing, wonderful) wife was quick to point out that saying "no" to these foods does not mean I don't have a food weakness. True, I'm not the guy who can't walk past the mini-donut stand without buying a bag, or the gal who sneaks a Big Mac when nobody's looking. My weakness is this: I love to eat things I've never tried before.
To be fair, I'm not as adventurous as all that makes it sound. Although I've eaten guinea pig, prairie oysters, tripe, sweetbreads, and more, I'm not one to go out of my way to try brains, worms, or other worldly delicacies. My weakness is for new combinations of flavors and tastes that I already know, from Spoonriver's blue corn bread cookies with raisins to Jones Soda's Turkey and Gravy flavored soft drink. Do I indulge? Not too often. Do I want to? Almost always.
I know that this does not make me unique. If there weren't millions of people with the same exact food weakness, then strawberry milkshake Pop Tarts wouldn't exist -- and neither would many of the amazing creations served up at the Minnesota State Fair. Here are a few of the brand new foods you can find at the fair this year:
- Chicken-fried bacon in a gravy boat
- Deep-fried avocado with ranch dressing
- Cheese pizza with corn dog topping
- Deep-fried bacon cheddar mashed potatoes on a stick
- Deep-fried bologna on a stick
Apparently, the people of Minnesota have spoken, and what we said was "we want more deep-fried things on sticks!"
At the risk of being a wet blanket, I've got to ask: What the heck are people thinking? I've already admitted to a weakness for weird foods, but this stuff isn't really weird, and it isn't very creative either. I've got no doubt that chicken-fried bacon will be a big hit this year, but can't we put our heads together and come up with new offerings that taste great, support our state's economy, promote our local farmers, and don't require emergency angioplasty? Must we continue to kneel down before the altar of deep fried things on sticks, or can we be free?
Friends, I'm turning to you. I believe that, together, we can create -- and yes, demand -- better foods! We can demand gourmet BLTs from the Strip Club, Wild Acres turkey burgers from the Birchwood Cafe, and cucumber gazpacho from Corner Table! We can celebrate the glory of Minnesota's August harvest, Ames Farm honey and all! We can enter our favorite, local, homemade recipes in baking contests! We can destroy the sticks that bind us, and be free!
Then again, I've never actually tried deep-fried bologna on a stick, so maybe I shouldn't knock it.