Wednesday, September 2, 2015

State Fair Diaries: Coen Bros. versus State Fair quotes

The matching bruises on my inner forearms tell a sad story. They are evidence that I've spent too many hours sitting on benches throughout the State Fairgrounds with my elbows cocked up over the backrests. What keeps me sitting hour after hour? Eavesdropping on conversations.

This has been a particularly colorful year for State Fair eavesdropping. Lots of controversy (rapeseed Bill Cosby and a naughty corn dog removed from the seed art exhibit; a protest, cancelled parade, and possibly spurious Black Lives Matter t-shirt sales) and yet the juiciest quotes I hear come from the 4H barns.

It is difficult to differentiate Minnesota speakers from characters in a Coen Brothers movie, and the Minnesota State Fair is full of inspirational quotes. Can you tell where these came from?

1. [dad asking vendor about the balloons he bought] These blow up into funny shapes and all?
[vendor] Well no... unless round is funny.
2. [woman to friend] Someone broke that kid.
[friend] Naw, she aint broke. Just her spirit is.
3. Oh, I just think I'm gonna barf... Well, that passed. Now I'm hungry again.
4. I'm just gonna go find a cash machine. 
5. Well, yah, you know, we covered that whole thing with limestone and you couldn’t even tell there was something buried there.
6.  Mind if I sit down? I'm carrying quite a load here.
7.  Well, the little guy was kinda funny-lookin'.
8.  Is this a... what day is this?
9.  Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!
10. Say, her cakes are very competitive.
11. I'm staying. Finishing my coffee.
12. He just ate - he didn't finish! He's goin' to McDonalds instead of finishin' here.
13.[not Glen] Need a beer, Glen?
[Glen] Does the Pope wear a funny hat? 
14. Due to the spring in her rib shape I am willing to forgive the flatness of her rack. However I am OK with leaving her in the hole for third place because of the sharpness of number 1 and the steepness of her hips.
15. You got any more of that good sarsaparilla?

1. Raising Arizona; 2. MN State Fair near beer garden; 3. Fargo; 4. The Big Lebowski; 5. MN State Fair in Merchandise Mart; 6. Fargo; 7. Fargo; 8. The Big Lebowski; 9. The Big Lebowski; 10. MN State Fair in Creative Activities; 11. The Big Lebowski; 12. Fargo; 13. Raising Arizona; 14. rough adaptation from MN State Fair at meat goat testing; 15. The Big Lebowski.





Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fig to Fork Week 2

I'd barely finished the contents of our first Fig to Fork delivery when the second one arrived. Inside I found a generous fillet of arctic char, apples, freekeh, mustard greens, lemons, parsley, a large shallot, peaches, beets, white beans, and a huge container of yogurt.

I love arctic char. It's difficult to go wrong when deciding how to prepare it. The delivery came with a recipe from Chef Jourdan Morris for olive oil poached char, but it was a beautiful summer evening and we intended to grill. I seasoned the char with cumin, lemon zest, and oregano and we dined on fish tacos with corn tomato salad.

Freekah is one of those ancient grains that seems to be new again. It reminds me of what might happen if barley and wild rice had a baby. Chef Jourdan's recipe for Freekah Salad made use of the grain as well as the beans, mustard greens, lemon, shallot, and parsley. I added cucumber and tomato, and we had more salad than we could finish in a few meals. I used the leftover mustard greens, shallot, and parsley for yet another salad (dressed with yogurt and lemon), and we still have plenty of fruit and beets to nourish us through Tuesday's delivery. Tomorrow we'll have peach and apple crisp for post-State Fair dessert. Fig to Fork is the delivery box that keeps on giving.

State Fair Diaries: I'll be seeing you

We meet at all these old familiar places. These church halls and bunny barns and corn roast lines are second homes to us during the twelve most perfectly magical days of our Minnesota year. We jostle for position in line and wait patiently for egg coffee and bacon-wrapped batter-fried olives. We ooh and ahh over large pigs, pop rock waffles, and the auto-chopper demo guy in Creative Activities. We share sticker shock ($9 for fried kale?!) then dance with abandon when the polka band plays at the Leinie Stage.

2015 is the year of unique-flavored beers, birdless barns, and giant inflatable hot sauce toys. This is the year my Ginger Citrus Pinchies (cookies named for our beloved Orson, a.k.a. Pinchy) won a Blue Ribbon and SPAM burgers returned to the Fairgrounds. This is the year my favorite State Fair Park-n-Ride dog Elvis turned 13, and he's still showing up to great us as we stumble out of the buses and head for home.

This is the year that while the 100th birthday of Ye Old Mill (did they call it Ye Young Mill in 1915?) nudged us to celebrate longevity and tradition, the Black Lives Matter protest reminded us that we are flawed. In Minnesota we rattle along, honoring the best of our past and progressing toward better. That's what the State Fair is all about.

Only eight days left. Time to batten down the Ibuprofen.