The PNE is about a lot of things and dieting is not one of them. In fact, most truly iconic PNE foods are deep fried or else come with something deep fried. It wasn’t always like that, but at some point PNE vendors must have started asking what else they could transform from meh to delicious with a bath in boiling oil. Their experiments are terrifying.
The funnel cake itself was amongst the best values at the Fair. For $5.50, we got a portion so big that my wife and I could not finish it between us. I mean, it’s basically like a big plate of fried pancake batter, and you will have icing sugar on your clothes for the rest of the day, but still. How often do you get a chance to do that?
My top 5 deep fried PNE foods
5. Fries: I know, you can get French fries anywhere. Then how come every second booth at the PNE is selling $7 baskets of fries? The answer is that everyone wants to walk around eating salty pieces of fried potato and staining their shirt with ketchup. It’s a thing. Embrace it.
4. Potato chips: We already talked about potatoes, you’re saying. No, we talked about French fries. And, just like anyone who has ordered a burger only to receive it with a side of potato chips, I can tell you that potato chips are not French fries. Plus, potato chips are one of the few things you can get at the Fair which is both deep fried and served on a stick. Really, what else do you want?
3. Onions: A fried colossal onion will run you a whopping $9. It’s basically a large blooming onion with chipotle mayo for dipping. For more modest tastes, there are onion rings at the Pub Grub booth. Surprisingly, that was all I found for fried onions. If you do get a fried onion, I would suggest either sharing or else wearing something with an elastic waistband. Belts are the natural enemy of the fried onion eater.
2. Pickles: This was probably the one thing I ate which I would eat again. Every individual thing about the dish was average. However, once you put it all together, fry it up all crispy, and condense all of that pickly tartness into little greasy bites, it turns into something unreasonable. Fried pickles, my new shame.
1. Dessert: Full disclosure, I’m not a big sweets guy. But the magic of an exhibition in the summer, with all of the useless products, raffles, carnies, and knock-off toy prizes, is that you can have something that you might eat anywhere, any other day of the year, except this time it’s deep fried. Whether it’s a Mars bar, cheesecake, or Oreo cookies, none of these desserts was ever meant to be deep fried. Ever.
But we found a way. It took years, but we found a way. And we didn’t just stop there, either. No, we got a booth at the fair so that we could stand up and tell the world “I deep fried a pie! Come and buy it for seven bucks. Don’t want a pie? No problem. Come on over anyway and I’ll batter you up a plate of cookies.” That, my friends, is progress.
Honourable mentions go to pakoras (very cheap at $3 from Curry in a Hurry), battered green beans, the aforementioned funnel cakes, and the deep fried Philly cheese steak, a true heart stopper. And before you go apoplectic about the omission of corn dogs, they don’t count. Like jalapeno poppers (my previous shame), they come in pre-made. For the purposes of this list, that’s cheating.