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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
Mike can be contacted via e-mail at mike@mikeredmondonline.com.

 

 

 

 There's No Shame in Deep Fried Pizza

I see where Deep-Fried Pizza is to be this year’s signature food at the Indiana State Fair.

Guess it was only a matter of time, huh? For years now, the Fair has been the place where American "food" has been pushed to the very limits of the name by the process of breading, battering and dunking into a vat of boiling oil. Which, I believe, is also the process once used to punish heretics, except for the breading and battering part.

It’s called a thermal weapon, a designation with my cardiologist enthusiastically agrees.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the State Fair. Forty-plus years of attendance attests to that. I also love pizza. Not that I eat it much anymore, but a forty-plus waistline used to attest to THAT. And I love deep-fried foods. We’ll leave the numbers out of it and just say that as a card-carrying Hoosier, I believe it to be one of the three major food groups, along with the Green Bean Casserole Group and the Pie Group.

That does not mean, however, that I love them all together.

The deep-fried thing looks to me like it is in danger of spinning out of control. By that I mean that it’s more or less expected that someone will come up with a new culinary atrocity for each fair, and so each year, the stakes are raised. Fried Oreos and Snickers bars are old news, yesterday’s coffee grounds. Fried cheesecake is so last year. Fried Pizza - that’s the ultimate. Until something else comes along.

And then what? Fried Thanksgiving dinner? Fried hot fudge sundaes with whipped cream and a cherry under the batter? How about Fried Nothing - just a big glop of batter, sizzled until it’s crispy and golden brown?

I’ll skip the lecture about how all this fried stuff can’t be good for you and certainly isn’t doing the state’s health statistics any good. Nobody listens to it anyway, especially not at fair time. Be honest: How many times have you gleefully announced you were going to the fair just so you could try the Elephant Ear diet, and plowed through a crowd of chain-smoking wide loads to get it?

The shame - and that’s not too strong a word for it - is that Indiana produces so much great food that doesn’t have to be deep-fried to be good. Sweet corn. Tomatoes. Melons. All manner of fruits and vegetables. The best ducks in the world. Fine beef. Legendary pork. Lamb that can stand with the best in the world. Wonderful chicken, magnificent turkey, and on and on...

The State Fair celebrates these things, to be sure - although personally, I’d like to see them ramp it up. I envision an all-Indiana foods expo - native products, at their peak. served up as tasty alternatives to food-like items offered by guys in the travel trailers with out-of-state plates. What would make it even better is if the producers would be there as well, so people can learn about those who make their livings by raising food for our tables.

Maybe someday. In the meantime, count me out on the deep-fried pizza. If I’m going to eat fried food - and I will, in moderation I’ll save my stomach for a corn dog. I wait all year for my state fair corn dog.

Which, in fairness, I will point out was someone else’s deep-fried disaster when it was introduced.

 

 

 

© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.