Where The Sour Turns to Sweet

1. We went to the Iowa State Fair last week, along with over a million other paying guests who were drawn to Des Moines by the promise of live entertainment, rides, livestock and really appallingly unhealthy food. (Note: The population of the entire state of Iowa is just over three million people, for perspective on just what a huge draw this massive regional event is). We each decided that we would pick one appallingly unhealthy food, then share the fruits of our foraging. Katelin went with the foot-long, batter-dipped corn dog, I got the fried macaroni and cheese bites, and Marcia got the pork chop on a stick. We sucked those down (with beer), then decided that we needed some appalling desserts to chase them with. Marcia went for the salted nut roll dipped in chocolate, I went high-brow and got a roasted ear of corn lathered in butter with a side of bacon on a stick dipped in chocolate, and Katelin got a red velvet funnel cake on a stick. More beer was necessary to wash it all down, though much of the second course ended up in the trash cans, as we were overcome by collective lard shock midway through our treats. Here’s some of the photo evidence, to prove the gustatory horrors we endured in the name of experiencing the best of Iowa in all of its summer glory:

Marcia and Katelin are technically not livestock, so they were allowed on the sidewalks.

Katelin and her corn dog in the Iowa Craft Beer Tent.

The looks on our faces are caused by lard shock, I believe.

Red Velvet Funnel Cake on a Stick. Yes, you read that right. Red Velvet Funnel Cake on a Stick. Note powdered sugar explosion all over Katelin’s shirt.

Even in the name of research, we couldn’t bring ourselves to attempt this one.

2. I had placed St. Vincent’s album Strange Mercy high on my Best Music of 2011 Survey, and my belief that it’s a masterpiece was made even stronger when I saw the series of live videos Annie Clark (St. Vincent’s real name) made for 4 AD Records (her label, once home to some of my ’80s faves like Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Clan of Xymox and others) that add a whole ‘nother level of mystique and majesty to some of the album’s stronger songs. This video has four songs from the live set, and then there’s a fifth song here that for some reason didn’t get edited into the long form one. Really nicely done . . . and they’re high definition videos, so blow ’em up to full screen and enjoy! (Note: Annie Clark’s live drummer is Matt Johnson, who I once saw tear the roof of the sucker in Albany when he was a member of the mighty Jed Davis’ Jeebus).

3. I grew up hearing stories about the time that my Dad stole the Frogmore Frog and found himself branded as a felon on Paul Harvey’s national radio broadcast. This story had enough resonance beyond my own immediate family that a Low Country South Carolina author has written a book about it, complete with a confession from another one of the perps. One of the Marine Corps Lieutenants referred to in the article was my dad, and I laughed reading the story, because his memory of the Paul Harvey radio broadcast was almost word for word what’s reported here. (Note: Don’t bother trying to find Frogmore on a map . . . the Coastal Development Carpetbaggers who descended on Beaufort County’s Sea Islands in the 1980s decided that the town name wasn’t posh enough, so it was changed to St. Helena, after the island it’s located on. I don’t consider this to be progress).

14 thoughts on “Where The Sour Turns to Sweet

  1. Great post — photo and caption number three put ’80s-era band ABC in my head, crooning “that’s the look, that’s the look/the look of lard.”

      • Ah, yes, a classic!

        Not in the same vein, but it seems like something you’d enjoy…of late I’ve been spinning this band called Goat. Like our beloved ABBA, they hail from Sweden, but choose to dabble in the extremely popular Afrobeat/kraut/psychedelic rock genre. Give ‘er a listen:

          • Downloaded the entire album, and on first listen, I’m already seeing this one as being an “Album of the Year” contender come December . . . . thanks for an EXCELLENT recommendation!! And Goat (my friend), you need to hear Goat (this band), too, stat!!!

            • Glad you’re enjoying! I heard “Goatman” and “Goatlord” and made it a point to download the entire album the day it came out. Absolutely loving it…plus it gets bonus points for “Run to your Mama,” which gets my boys a-dancin’ with abandon.

    • When they handed it to us, fresh out of the deep fat fryer, it literally streamed hot grease down its stick for about five minutes . . . we exercised restraint by not purchasing the extra cream cheese frosting to dip it in . . .

  2. I love the annual summer fairs, the agriculture showcase in particular — the produce and animals and blue ribbons. Rural life at its most proud! Peer pressure (because it couldn’t be my fault) always convinces me to eat a blooming onion or fried pickles or entire bag of kettle corn. (Or all three, plus a big hunk of fudge thrown in for good measure.) This captures the feeling exactly (and I vow to remember, but in 12 months I won’t): “we were overcome by collective lard shock midway through our treats.” I just hope you avoided the rides! Great post, very funny. Thank you.

    • I have been to other state fairs, too, and really like the agricultural element, too . . . the Iowa State Fair, though, is really the Fair to End all Fairs, the feisty grandpappy of the idiom. That “1000 Places to See Before You Die” book from a few years back included it as one of the world’s “GOTTA DO IT” events, and I totally get why they did. It has been held at the same location since 1886, and the infrastructure there for a one week event is mind-blowingly robust. But . . . when you figure that a third of the state’s entire population, and five times the normal population of Des Moines, show up here for a week with wads of cash in hand, it makes good economic sense to make sure there’s buildings and grounds ready to greet them!!!

      • Ma stopped fluffing the bedding, and rested the tines of the hay fork on the barn floor. She turned and narrowed her eyes slightly. “There’s a dandy fair up in Syracuse,” she said, with an accent on the ‘cuse. “In fact Mother remembered Daddy taking her up there in ‘25 when they were first married.” I ran the hose to empty it of stagnant water, picked up the pail and threw yesterday’s water out of the barn door and into the pasture. “Yes, surely the corn from the Hurley Flats will take first prize next week,” I replied. She smiled, and forgave me for all that foolishness about Iowa.

        Sorry, couldn’t resist!! (No reason to doubt you.)

        • Just like with corn, I’ve been a North Carolina Fair partisan for most of my sentient life, but (once again) Iowa has made me re-think my ag priorities . . .

          Though I should note the proper way to pronounce the fair in North Carolina is “Faaaaaar” . . . . as in:

          “Ya gonna go uppa faaaaaaar a-night wish your momma’nen?”

          “Yes’m, Me an my momma’nem gonna go uppa faaaaar a-night an’ a-morrow-night. Dere’s hogs dere!”

          “Hogs an’ punkins! Nut’ better’n a’ faaaaar!!”


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