As it is with people, it’s what’s inside a deep-fried confection that counts. A deep-fried candy bar is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, smothered in dough and shoved into a deep fryer. It’s the ultimate “poor decision” food and it is totally delicious.
Need proof? Head to the Taste of Tacoma, running today through Sunday at Point Defiance Park.
The food festival is a microcosm of things your mother warned you never to eat. Menus this year fall right in line with the national festival food trend that more grease is better. Who better to judge the deep-fried fare than the News Tribune’s restaurant critic and an intern – a self-described expert in bacon, cheese and butter who can recite all the words to “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”
We took to the festival to find the most decadent deep-fried monstrosities.
But first, a few thoughts on the variety and pricing. You won’t find Tacoma restaurants represented at the Taste – only AmeRAWcan Bistro is there, serving coconut drinks and brownie bites.
Rather, you’ll find local caterers and food vendors who travel the festival circuit, which translates into a lot of food with ethnic and regional spins – everything from Russian to Filipino, from Northwest to Southwest, from Cajun to Vietnamese.
Gone this year are the $3.75 bargain bites that each booth offered last year. While many booths are serving nibbles in the $3-$4 range, expect to pay a bigger price for food this year – $5-$7 per dish, on average.
Here are our top picks for fried foods:
Just like Mom used to deep fry: Fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich
This is a sandwich that has the potential to build a cult following. It comes in two sizes, but you probably don’t want to order more than the half size. Actually you probably shouldn’t eat this at all, ever. It’s a PB&J you won’t want to cut the crust off of because it’s flaky, buttery and delicious.
We got ours with grape jelly, but there’s also raspberry and strawberry. $5 for a half sandwich at the PB&J Booth.
Abom-omnomnom-inations: Deep-fried Twinkie
A big mess. It has the texture of a sponge left under the sink too long. The filling, which we all know is crucial to the structural integrity of a Twinkie, melts into sloppy foam, and the whipped cream topper melted too quickly. Find it for $5 at the Frandy booth.
A little fiber with your fat: Deep-fried green bean fries
This is almost health food, right? It’s the perfect finger food for walk-around eating. The snappy beans tasted of summer rolled up inside an unhealthy breaded jacket. It was like a bean wearing a cozy sweater. $3.75 at the Wings
• Rings booth.
Appetizers or tranquilizers? Bacon-wrapped prawns
If there ever was a perfect meat-on-a-stick concept, it would be a bacon-wrapped prawn skewer. The prawns looked like they were spooning, all nestled snug on the stick until they were ripped from the skewer and stuffed into our mouths. This is a pretty sizeable portion for the price. Find it for $7 at the Billy McHale’s booth.
Don’t get on a ride after you eat this: Jalapeno corn dog
Who knew that Mexico, Germany and Italy exported corn dogs? Just kidding. These are good ol’ American concoctions – battered and fried franks on a stick, of course.
The Mexican dog was a porky dog studded with bits of jalapeño and cheddar cheese all fried up snug in a crunchy cornmeal batter. Find it for $6 at the Corndogs of the World booth.