Thursday, September 11, 2008
The Minnesota State Fair: ‘12 Days of Fun’ proclaim the flags. It was certainly 3 hours of fun,12 days might have been pushing it though. It was a magnifying glass held on all things Minnesotan, and I have to say I liked what I saw...mostly. The fair is primarily an agricultural show attached to a fun fair. It’s famous for frying foods and putting them on a stick, anything you can imagine: lasagna, Twinkies, Belgian waffles, hot dogs, egg rolls - you name it, they can put it on a stick and fry it!
Another impressive aspect of the fair is the butter sculptures of the Princess Kay Finalists. I assumed that the Princess Kay competition was a beauty contest. Apparently I was wrong; the only criteria these delightful young ladies must meet is that they are the daughters of dairy farmers. This entitles said stunners to have their head and shoulders sculpted out of butter and to be displayed in a rotating chilled cabinet, it was reminiscent of the bohemian rhapsody video only with better lighting and worse hairstyles. I’m not entirely sure whether the winner was then decided upon the strength of their buttery likeness or whether some other ag-related yardstick were used; “If I were to be crowned Princess Kay, I would campaign tirelessly for the eradication of butter-substitutes and the plague upon the dairy industry that is ‘spreadable butter’.” Something to that effect anyway.
As a result of attending the fair, I have now started a tie-dye spotting contest, which I aim to monitor in future posts. Can you imagine my horror shortly upon entering the fair when confronted with a whole family - not just one oddball, but a whole family - sporting tie-dye T-shirts?! Casey explained that some people wear them so that they can’t lose each other. I am of the firm opinion that if you dress your children in tie-dye, frankly you deserve to lose them to social services. If you’re so concerened about the little mites running off, carry a flag at the front of the party, tie them with string chain-gang style, even get one of those horrendous snippets of Americana that is the family vacation t-shirt printed: ‘The Wacowski Family does Disneyland, 2008!!!’ Anything but the tie-dye, this is the kind of thing which results in angry young adults with access to firearms.
My horror was soon subdued with an almost local delicacy that is the cheese curd. These popcorn sized nuggets of yum hail from the neighbouring state of Wisconsin, ‘The Cheese State’. Clearly I've moved to the wrong place. I am in ‘The land of 10,000 Lakes’, whilst extremely pretty and a kayaker’s haven, you can’t eat a tray of lakes on the way home from the pub dipped in chilli ketchup.
Cheese curds are deep fried little lumps of cheese that melt in your mouth and are little known outside of the USA, and even then are only really widely available in the more northern states generally. If I were Princess Kay, my promise to the world would be to mass-market cheese curds and share the joy that is deep-fried cheese, I’m pretty sure that would earn me a Nobel Prize. Even if I could just get Americans to appreciate good cheddar, I would feel like my duties as dairy princess would be somewhat worthwhile. An aged cheddar here is anything that is over 6 months old and they seem to regard burger cheese as ‘sharp’. I spent 40mins in Uptown Rainbow yesterday glowering with derision at the tiny overpriced array of ‘mature cheddar’ that had a combined age of perhaps four years and tasted as sharp as a sofa. I like to think of myself as a bit of a cheese buff, and I have to say, this just will not do. Minnesota is treading on thin ice with me here and if I can’t find a reasonably priced cheddar outside of a hippy co-op specialising in gourmet imports, I may have to up sticks and move to Wisconsin, lakes are overrated anyway.