Some of the nation's top food critics found much to savor at the State Fair, but one said the lefse was doughy.
"I feel as if I've just entered the hardened artery of darkness of the Minnesota State Fair," said Kathleen Purvis, food writer for the Charlotte Observer, as she entered the fair's Food Building on Thursday.
"Do they have Pepto Bismol on a stick?" asked John Kessler, dining critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Hmmm. ... What kind of wine do you serve with cheese curds?" wondered San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer.
Nearly 60 members of the Association of Food Journalists arrived at the State Fair from some of the nation's most respected culinary havens, places where hot dish and lefse are just rumors and nobody has ever suggested deep-frying a candy bar.
The writers descended upon the State Fair, licking their journalistic chops and preparing to devour almost anything on a stick, keeping stiff upper lips regardless of how much grease was in their way.
The early consensus of the nation's food writers, who were in the Twin Cities for an annual meeting?
There's much to be savored -- and maybe even written -- about walleye on a stick and deep-fried pickles with cream cheese.
As for the food journalist who best tolerated cheese curds? Richard Swearinger, the Des Moines-based food and entertainment editor for Better Homes and Gardens, said the Minnesota State Fair has better cheese curds than Iowa's State Fair.
"But," he added, "we have better pork chops on a stick."
Dinner conversation rarely gets this spicy.
A half-baked idea?
The food journalists entered the fair with open minds and clean palates. Not even a little rain on the fair's opening day could dampen their spirits.
OK, one of them, Kessler of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, admitted he was on a mission. He wanted a deep-fried candy bar.
Until he started thinking out loud.
"I'm 45 years old, concerned about cholesterol, with a family history of heart disease. ... You know, this walleye on a stick is really good."
The Houston Chronicle's Peggy Grodinsky said: "Almost too good, almost too close to healthy for the fair. It's like good fish and chips. I would order this at a restaurant."
Cheramie Sonnier and Tommy Simmons, of The Advocate of Baton Rouge, La., seemed genuinely amused that a Minnesota fair could have a Bayou Bob's Gator Shack, run by a transplanted Minnesotan who now calls Las Vegas home.
"You know, I haven't seen a lot here that's healthy," Sonnier said.