Published 9:50 am Thursday, August 6, 2009

There was food all over the place after it was over, in my mind. My stomach ready to burst; all I could think about was the food I’d consumed.

It started out innocently enough — grabbing a bite here, a bite there — sampling all that the Freeborn County Fair had to offer. There was the unusual, the innovative and a lot of deep-fried foods around the fair.

The first stop was grabbing a gyro to enjoy the Greek treat. For $7 I got a healthy-sized gyro filled with onions, tomatoes and cucumber sauce. It might have been too much too soon, but I felt pretty good and decided to find some dessert.

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Now deep fried sweets are no longer a novelty, they are everywhere. But I have never heard of deep-fried Oreos so it was imperative that I give it a try. The Oreos were placed in a batter and deep fried for a short time. I ordered double-stuffed Oreos with ice cream. The ice cream was a good idea because the Oreos were very hot coming out of the fryer. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first bit into the Oreos but what I got was a crispy, crunchy cookie with the flavor of grease. It was one of the most unusual flavor combinations I’ve experienced, but luckily I had some ice cream.

See a video of Sports Editor Nick Gerhardt’s dining frenzy or go to the videos in the lower left corner of the home page.

Following my dessert it was time to get back to the real deal, and fortunately the onion ring stand was nearby. Watching homemade onion rings being made is a sight, and I watched as the onions were chopped and eventually fried.

The batch I got was delicious — crispy, a little fluffy and perfectly golden brown. They were big, too, and not fried together. They were by far the early highlight of the eating escapade.

The heat combined with walking around forced me to take a break to regain my composure. But after some stomach rubbing I found enough room for cheese curds. I was amazed to see lightly battered cheese cubes go into a deep fryer and come out like they did. With the heat I figured the cheese cubes would blend together for one cheese blob, but it didn’t come out that way.

After the curds my sight started to get fuzzy and I thought I might slip into a food coma. I was struggling at that point, but a deep-fried pickle stand came out of nowhere, and it was a must that I try such an unusual thing.

I had heard that deep-fried green beans were tasty, but nothing about a pickle. All the comments regarding the deep-fried pickle were negative. Heck, the guy running the stand said he didn’t like them. Either way, the allure of the strange was too much, and I dove right in. The pickles came in spear form and looked like wedge fries and came with ranch dressing.

I looked at the pickle for a short time before having a “bottoms up” moment and plunged it into the ranch and bit into it. I was confused instantly because I expected the pickle to be crunchy. Instead it was limp and a little mushy. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it wasn’t a stellar treat — it was meeh.

There was one more stop on this smorgasbord — the giant cookie stand. The cookie was as big as my head and cost $6. For a cookie that big, I expected there to be a lot of milk around, but all the stand sold was a 14-ounce glass. That lack of milk was the most horrifying thing about the cookie, which was otherwise phenomenal.

Of course, I couldn’t finish the crumbling cookie, and, luckily, I found plenty of people willing to have some chocolate chip cookies on the train that rides around the fair.

That food coma eventually came, and I took a long nap and didn’t feel like eating the rest of the day.