Strolling past the vendors at any one of dozens of food festivals that go on in May in the South, the sound of sizzling hot oil seems to hiss, “Jamie Oliver be damned.”
Whatever you do, I wouldn’t show up there hungry. It’s a gauntlet.
Fried dough, aka funnel cakes, french fries, fried crab, fried chicken and turkey legs and yes, some more strange items too. If it’s edible and can be eaten with your hands or put on a stick, somebody has fried it already, and has it available for you at a nearby food festival:
Fried pickles, Twinkies, miniature goat cheeses, silver queen corn, crowd favorite okra, perhaps even Oreo cookies.
At the Little River Blue Crab Festival, fried food smells push their way through the thick Carolina humidity and hit like a wall; and as with any wall it’s best not to steer into it head on. In spite of what the copious serving sizes on display imply, for the uninitiated, fried food consumption is best partaken in obliquely: a bite of a spouse’s fried crab cake sandwich here, a section of blooming onion there. In this case, insist that each child absolutely does not have to have his or her own.
Six or so otherwise unconnected people around me, cans of Busch beer firm-fisted, sing in unison, momentarily and enthusiastically with Charlie Daniels as he belts out Long Haired Country Boy. In that synchronicity, I get chill bumps and suddenly want a big beautiful plate of potato chips. Thankfully this feeling passes.