Fried dough and demolition derby


It’s a great country, isn’t it?

That was my Uncle Eddie’s favorite expression. He would say it sarcastically when talking about some bonehead lawmaker and sincerely when the entire family was together sharing some good news.

The saying fits for me. Take for example:

A couple weekends ago I’m in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC exploring a Picasso exhibition and trying to understand how he could be so talented in so many forms and styles.

This past weekend I’m in CNY watching some guys and gals smack the snot out of each other’s cars at a demolition derby in the Madison County Fair.

It is a great country.

First, let me get my little nugget of food information taken care of. Is it funnel cake or fried dough that I most desire when at a fairgrounds? Me thinks it’s the fried dough, though I can also be talked into a funnel cake.

Funnel cake with the mandatory powdered sugar

The main difference, as far as I can tell, is that funnel cakes take a little more work, being formed by pouring batter through a funnel into the hot oil. The fried dough is kind of stretched and dropped in, a little less snazzy looking but tasty all the same.

In my never-ending quest to share innocuous factoids, I also can tell you that funnel cakes are also called beaver tails (our trip to Ottawa proved that) and elephant ears (we learned that at the Indiana State Fair). Our friends at Wikipedia say they also are called frying saucers, pizza frita, whales tails, buñuelos, doughboys, and roadkill.

Learn something new every day.

So there I was in the grandstand of the county fair, held in Brookfield, and the air was redolent with all sorts of fried goods: potato chips, dough and/or funnel cakes, fries with cheese, fries without cheese, and bloomin’ onions.

The smells were matched by the deafening roar created by the drivers of Chrysler Imperials and other reborn autos gunning their engines as they dashed and spit and spun as they tried to smack each other in a space that seemed smaller than a football field.

There were 10 cars in that space during one heat, and the testosterone was flowing like the smoke from the engine blocks after a good crushing hit or the dirt showering the firefighters manning the outside of the ring, waiting to jump in if needed.

It was a bit like rubbernecking on the LIE, except I wasn’t stuck in traffic and I had paid $5 for the privilege.  The two guys next to me shared the inside dope on some of the drivers, who mostly hailed from Norwich, South Plymouth,  Sherburne, Earlville, and Hamilton.

It was good fun, and certainly worked another part of my brain that the Picasso exhibition had not touched. I’ll consider myself well-rounded, then, and give my Uncle Ed his due.

Fried dough, also with the powdered sugar

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