Matthew has given me a reminder of a culinary event I attended last week – the Massachusetts state fair.

Well, technically, this is the Eastern States Exposition, and serves as the state fair for all of New England. It’s held in Western Massachusetts, a place as close to neutral and accessible as is found here. It’s big—we went on a weekday morning, and there was traffic backed up for a mile through a rotary. On a typical weekend day (the Big E, as it’s known, runs for 17 days), they apparently get 100,000 visitors. I can’t imagine.

So, the main event of a state, or even a county, fair is of course food, especially deep fried food. We lunched our way through the fair, and had a surprising quantity of extremely good fried food. In the non-fried category, I plumped for fresh raspberries from the Massachusetts coalition of farmers’ markets (very good indeed), my first lobster roll, from the Maine pavilion (not enough mayonnaise to moisten the sandwich, and the bread was vaguely stale and floppy), and a rather good slice of pizza from American Flatbreads, cooked in the stone oven they’ve built inside the Vermont pavilion.

In fried food, the deep fried cheese curds and the deep fried oreos particularly stood out. Yep, deep-fried oreos. Like a beignet with a creamy chocolate filling—the shortening that makes the cookies crisp melts at deep-frying temperatures, as does the filling, so the whole comes out like a tiny chocolate-filled doughnut. The cheese curds, from the first stage of cheddar making, were like mozzerella sticks, but nice instead of nasty. The batter wasn’t that crumb coating, but rather a baking-powder batter that you might use for fish. Everything was fried to order, which makes a huge difference.