Our panel of food writers joined Kerri Miller at the Minnesota State Fair to share their thoughts on what to eat, and what not to eat, at the fairgrounds.
State Fair food recommendations from Andrew Zimmern:
1. Cheese curds. He calls them "milky, squeaky and perfect."
2. Carl's Gizmo sandwich. "A great, great, loose-meat-style sandwich."
3. The dining halls. "One of the things that charms me the most about the fair is the sense of history ... we've lost too many of those great dining halls." He likes the Hamline Church Dining Hall and the Salem Lutheran Dining Hall.
4. Mini Donut Batter Crunch Ice Cream from Izzy's. It "doesn't get any better."
5. Cajun Pork Rinds with Alabama-White sauce from Famous Dave's.
6. The pumpkin pie from Minneapple. "It's spectacular. An extraordinary product."
From James Norton:
1. Pig Wings from the new Mancini's, actually made of porchetta. He says they are "unctuous, fennel-kissed and smoky."
2. Gyros at G&G Concessions. Gyros are often too greasy or over-salted, but not the ones at G & G. He says you should try them.
3. Spring Grove sodas.
From Stephanie Meyer:
1. The Fresh French Fries. She says it's "about the salt, the crunch."
LEARN MORE ABOUT FAIR FOOD:
• The Heavy Table's State Fair Food Tour
Bad trend: Horrible, horrible dipping sauces. Dipping sauces that added nothing substantial to their foods, except, possibly, sugar. Brain-confusingly bad chocolate sauces for people who hate themselves. A mysterious strawberry yogurt sauce for a grilled doughnut.
• Andrew Zimmern's Minnesota State Fair Favorites
I love the Minnesota State Fair so much that I try to go all 12 days. Every year there's a list of new food booths, serving every type of wild deep-fried and on-a-stick creations, but when it comes down to it, half of the $33 million in food sales is from top ten classic items. I am a traditionalist when it comes to state fair foods and don't stray too far from the cheese curds and footlong hot dogs. Here's a list of my go-to fair favorites (and a few new dishes that are worth a try).