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BEST STATE FAIR FOOD Minneapolis 2005 - deep-fried Twinkie

Readers' Choice: cheese curds

You may be questioning this winner already. It's probably not the State Fair food that comes to mind as your favorite. But when we think about what eating at the fair really means, we think: unchecked, joyous gluttony--the freedom, no, make that duty, to eat more in a single day than Mischa Barton does in a month. And the food that best exemplifies this principle is the deep-fried Twinkie. We still love the classics, of course, but from pronto pups and pork chops on a stick to the more exotic elk burgers and barbecued alligator, they're filled with protein--practically good for you! Cheese curds? Calcium! The chocolate-chip cookies and mini doughnuts are excellent and have no discernable dietary benefits, but they're pretty common, and they don't come with a strip of wood with which to hold them--a requirement for the "best" fair food. This leaves us with the great all-American Twinkie, gently deep-fried to perfection in a powdered-sugar batter and served with a drizzling of your choice of syrup: chocolate, strawberry, or raspberry. The Twinkie holds up surprisingly well to the hot-oil treatment; the filling turns out just warm and gooey enough. "Sweet" is not a strong enough word to describe the taste of the result. This is what State Fair food is all about: pure decadence on a stick, delivering alternate bouts of giddiness and nausea--a microcosm of the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

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