Story last updated at 9/11/2013 - 6:24 pm
After four years of living in Alaska, I finally made my way to Palmer to the annual state fair. I went on behalf of my company, but that wasn’t the primary reason I attended the fair. When asked if I would consider staffing the information booth my first response was “Is there funnel cake?” When told yes indeed there was, my next statement was “Count me in!”
Palmer is absolutely beautiful, I could live there if there was an ocean and it didn’t have sub-zero temperatures in the winter. The landscape is breathtaking and the people are very friendly. The local eateries are well beyond my expectations and later this week I will be recreating a few of the meals I had there. I particularly enjoyed poached eggs on polenta with a tomato sauce from Turkey Red. Who would have thought such different ingredients would taste so divine together?
Once we arrived at the fair and replaced the duo who had been there the previous three days, I got oriented to my surroundings and I scoped out the various food venues. I decided to chronicle my fair culinary adventure through my social media outlets of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’ll soon be adding pictures to my Pinterest as well.
The fun thing about fair food is that it’s fair food. This is usually food one cannot get anywhere else. It is unlikely that one will find funnel cake, deep fried cheese curds or a pork chop on a stick at a family restaurant. But these delicious bites of iconic culinary masterpieces are all found at the state fair. I believe I should also add that nowhere else have I seen a corn hog. Yes, a corn hog. This is a 12-inch hotdog, wrapped in bacon and dipped in batter and deep fried. I ask you, is there anything else that can be labeled as the quintessential fair food besides a corn hog? It’s so bad it’s good. And, I ate the whole thing. No regrets.
In between gorging myself on fried and battered food, I did enjoy the local vegetables and amazing bowls of black beans and rice. Actually they were so amazing I had them twice. I felt they would balance out the three funnel cakes, cheese curds, pork chop on a stick, corn hog and cotton candy. It’s amazing what one can consume in three days.
After my gluttonous attendance at the fair, my traveling companion, Lorene and I set out to see some of the local area and to do a little shopping in Anchorage. I learned a very important lesson on this adventure. One should not go pants shopping following a gorge fest of fair food. It’s traumatizing. I’m sure the sales girl in JC Penney’s was a little concerned when she hear anguished whimpering coming from the fitting rooms. Thank goodness I didn’t go swimsuit shopping. That assuredly would have sent me to therapy.
My culinary adventure is behind me and I am now planning to meet with my personal trainer at the gym as soon as possible. I imagine I will most likely be working out four hours a day for the next three months. I still have no regrets. I cannot imagine a more fun way to experience the fair than through the creative foods that are available. It speaks to American ingenuity as well as Alaskan boldness.
I have decided that this week I would present the one recipe I would want to duplicate from the fair that is relatively healthy and absolutely delicious: Cuban Black Beans and Rice. I send my heartfelt gratitude to all in Palmer who made the fair so fun and especially to Tres Amigos who made this incredible dish.
I invite you to have your own culinary adventures, whether they are around the world, your country, your state or even in your own city. You never know what you may discover.
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
CUBAN BLACK BEANS
1 cup cooked rice
1 can black beans (do not drain)
½ cup cilantro, chopped
½ cup yellow or white onion, chopped
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
½ tablespoon and 1/8 teaspoon cumin
½ tablespoon and 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Favorite hot sauce
½ cup roasted peanuts (optional)
4-8 tortillas, warmed (optional)
Prepare rice according to package. In medium sauce pan, pour one can of black beans, do not drain. Heat to low simmer. Add ½ tablespoon cumin and ½ tablespoon chili powder. Add rice once it is cooked thoroughly.
Combine yogurt, whipping cream, ½ teaspoon cumin, 1/8 teaspoon chili powder and lime juice in small bowl.
To serve, place bean and rice mixture on plate or in bowl, top with onion, pepper, cilantro and yogurt sauce. Add hot sauce to taste and peanuts if desired. Warm tortillas are a wonderful companion to this dish.
Kelly Moore, a.k.a. Midgi, writes and cooks from Juneau. Visit her blog, www.mealswithmidgi.com, for additional stories and recipes. She may be reached at midgi@