To this Tampa Bay resident, the Florida State Fair is very similar to Gasparilla. I can only deal with each one once every few years then I’m good for a while.

Instead of beads and beer the indulgences at the State Fair are the food no doubt. Can you fry it? Then you can buy it! Can you add bacon? Then they’ll make ‘em! Before the tents are even assembled, the local media goes wild in anticipating and promoting the strangest and greatest foods the fair will be debut that year. Let me add my own writing of the ‘normal’ citizen preparing to indulge.

The Ramen Burger
The Ramen Burger

I cook most of my meals (without a fryer) so I prayed my stomach wouldn’t be shocked by the sudden diet change. If you plan to visit the fair just to “eat around” I plead you bring at least three other friends with the same intention and just split all food up. Your arteries will thank you and your tongue will get a mild break from the monotony of all fried foods feeling similar.

Ramen Burger
(From the same cart that showed off the Krispy Kreme Burger) This Beef Patty is topped with Asian Slaw and Sauce—and features fried Ramen Noodles molded into the buns! Somewhere between receiving the Burger to dividing it up, the Noodle Bun became soft and started to fall apart. This meal tasted a lot like Chinese take-out Stir Fry- but no utensils needed! Maybe next time they should use the same noodles from “Crispy Noodle” dishes.

Red Velvet Funnel Cake
Red Velvet Funnel Cake

Red Velvet Funnel Cake
This funnel cake flushed a deep brownish red, topped with a Cream Cheese-based icing and powdered sugar. It looked like ground beef with white mold. At least it tasted better. I liked the crispy texture and the Red Velvet flavor, but the icing was completely underwhelmed. Idea—leave the powdered sugar and just mix the cream cheese icing with some condensed milk.

Bloomin' Onion
Bloomin’ Onion

Amish Donut
I can never resist donuts—even the original, simple, glazed version. Nothing is unusual here except the size meant to rival Captain America’s shield. I craved some warm Black Tea to accompany (alas I did not find any)

Ah—and now the Fair staples because…
well… we’re at the freakin’ fair have cravings for something familiar. We pretty much created a Flying-V formation in our haste for the Bloomin’ Onion Rings (at a stand overlooking the water). The final awesomeness is when the cook stabs out the middle of that Onion Flower and replaces it with the dipping sauce. The Chili Cheese Fries can be found almost everywhere and is almost as ubiquitous to the fair as cotton candy. Although the fries weren’t as crispy and the chili had a very canned flavor—I couldn’t complain. I knew what I was getting myself into. And finally… the souvenir to cuddle late at night for days… Kettle Corn! I cradled mine like a baby and once I got home carefully divided it into portions to be frozen, chilled, or eaten at work.


Chili Cheese Fries and Kettle Corn
Chili Cheese Fries and Kettle Corn

I’m definitely more floored by the ingenuity of the dishes at the Fair over the execution. Think about it—you can get lots of ‘original ideas’ at many Bay restaurants (and probably done better) but at least the State Fair makes it accessible to the masses.

My fried foods indulgence has been calmed… I’ll see you at the State Fair in 2017.


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