Recently, I played matchmaker between a crawfish teetotaler and a basket of fried crawfish tails. “They’re just kinda balls of fried,” remarked the unimpressed lunchmate. My mama would have fainted. Fried crawfish are her favorite fried food, and I suspect the “ball of fried” thing is exactly why.
Since it’s bathing suit season, you’ll read a lot of stories about joining gyms and eating kale–you know, that green that cities like New Orleans “don’t have.” Those columns won’t stop the fryers from bubbling with the oil from your morning hash browns, so I’ve decided to kick off my inaugural Thursday afternoon column with a look at the most unusual fried things in the South.
State fairs begin next month, which should give you enough time to lose the 20 pounds you’ll immediately regain upon eating these unusual, slightly disgusting, but ultimately rewarding lottery tickets of food.
Without further ado, my power rankings of fried foods I’ve never tried:
1) MOST INEDIBLE: Deep Fried Bubblegum (Courtesy of Texas State Fair)
Whoever created this is a maven of gastrointestinal discomfort, a harbinger of tummy aches. This is one of the few things I will never put in my mouth. That said, whoever created it must have tried at least three bites of his/her own creation, making that person a) the owner of an actual iron stomach b) not a human being. Either way, I’m impressed. Easily number one.
2) MOST UTTERLY TERRIFYING INGREDIENTS IN A RECIPE: Fried Scorpions (Courtesy of the Depths of Hades / South Florida Fair)
This couldn’t win first prize, because South Florida also dips them in chocolate and jams them on a stick. But a Floridian offers the best recipe for a soup I’ve ever seen, solely because it requires “30-40 live scorpions, washed.” WHO’S ON WASHING DUTY? Horrible. But if you do prepare this dish, go local. Florida bark scorpions are where it’s at.
3) MOST INCREDIBLE WAY TO IMBIBE AND CHEW SIMULTANEOUSLY: Fried Beer (Courtesy of Mark Zable in Dallas)
Because drinking beer and eating a plate of crispy _______ is far too demanding, Mark Zable filled pretzel dough with beer and fried it. Asking how is like peeking behind Oz’s curtain. You just don’t do it. Instead, bite into a fried beer ball and, as the liquid seeps out, thank the stars you were born into this century rather than one in which you’d have to drink the stuff. Oh, the humanity.
4) MOST IRONIC FRIED DISH: Fernie’s Fried Club Salad (Courtesy of Texas Sate Fair)
Eating salad when you want fried food is like drinking hot sauce when you’re thirsty. But salad is healthy, and living longer is appealing. Cue the fried salad, which makes you feel healthy while being anything but.
5) MOST CANNED FRIED FOOD: Fried Spam (Courtesy of Hula Girl Food Truck in Washington, D.C.)
Spam musubi is a Hawaiian meal involving grilled spam and rice wrapped together with dried seaweed. The Hula Girl Food Truck likes to fry its Spam. It’ll be the only fried food we’ll be able to eat when the zombie apocalypse occurs, and we sure won’t be complaining.
The obvious issue here is that this isn’t exactly the most accessible list ever written on the Internet, but we’ve got you covered. If your desire for fried food hasn’t been satisfied simply by reading about it, why don’t you head to the nearest grocer and/or farm (depending on your place of residence) and pick up the ingredients to make this deep-fried pimiento cheese sandwich from the Southern Living Test Kitchen.
Southern Fried is a weekly column brought to you by Travis M. Andrews that focuses on the fun, the ridiculous, and the trending in these here Southern United States. Because sometimes home is a little absurd.