Friday, October 12, 2012

Most Creative

Rodgers and Hammerstein, on the subject of state fairs, wrote a song with the lyric "It's dollars to donuts/ That our state fair/ Is the best state fair in our state." You may or may not forgive these city boys for writing a whole musical in ignorance of the seemingly obvious fact that any given state has only one state fair. But if that defining feature of their titular institution was too nuanced to catch their attention, we should note that the song pays tribute to something, if possible, even more essential to the nature of state fairs. I mean, of course, the emphasis on superlative, the foregrounding of "best."

State fairs celebrate nothing so much as "most." Most pounds on a hog, most perfect kernels of corn, most whatever extreme seems desirable. That's not to imply that state fairs are all the same. For instance, Iowa state fair cuisine prizes things on a stick, while Texas emphasizes the fried. But if salad-on-a-stick and fried beer are regional treats, the universal appeal to superlative status remains. In Texas, there is an annual competition for "Best Taste" and "Most Creative" among fried entrants. I won't keep you in suspense: this year's Best Taste went to Deep Fried Jambalaya. And, in the grand tradition of fried butter and fried bubblegum, Most Creative was awarded to Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll. I haven't tried it yet, but I feel confident saying that, dollars to fried donuts, it's the best Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll in our state.

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