Alas the fair has come to an end...
We now wait until another year for the delicious smells of fried Oreos and the wondrous sights of carnies, fanny packs and children on leashes.
My mom has always been a fan of the Italian sausage sandwich - I recall one trip to the fair when I was little where she and her friend split one, and then went right back and bought another one and split that one because it was THAT good. It simply can't be beat...that is...until you meet the grinder.
I thought I was a fair food expert - 30 years of attending the fair is a pretty good level of experience. I know that you always go for a "Poncho Dog" instead of a regular corn dog (don't ask me why, I just do) and I know where to get the good corn on the cob (by the arena where you can see it roasting). I also know that you get the Italian sausage sandwich that's on the East side of "food row". These things are common truths and shall never been refuted. What I didn't know was that on the menu, below all the big writing, was a little thing called a "grinder." There isn't even a description. So it was a big surprise to me and my fair food expertise that I not only 1.) hadn't had a grinder before but also that 2.) I didn't even know what it was. The good news is that I had a trusted friend who did know, and he has since shown me the ways of the wise.
The difference between the grinder and the regular Italian sausage sandwich is that in addition to the deliciously juicy Italian sausage and sweet tomato sauce, you also get spicy peppers and melted mozzarella cheese. The spicy peppers really add an extra zing of flavor and balance out the somewhat sweet tomato sauce. And the cheese...well...cheese is just awesome.
After the grinder experience, I had to go with an oldie, but a goodie. The corn dog...the Poncho dog to be exact.
I don't know what the difference between a Poncho dog and a regular corn dog is, I just know that when I was growing up we weren't allowed to get the regular ones - and Poncho dogs are delicious so that's fine with me.
Truth be told - in one day I ate a grinder, a Poncho dog, an ear of corn and a funnel cake. Don't judge.