Synonymous with the USA, fried food comes in a variety of different shapes, sizes and calorific values. From state fairs to southern kitchens, there are no limits as to what can be fried. Due to its flexibility, there are myriad different ways in which you can be served it, from deep-fried Oreos and ice cream to more exotic offerings such as alligator. “The old saying goes, ‘if you fry it, they will buy it’ for a reason! Frying things add so much flavour & crunch to otherwise ordinary foods & dishes!” says Erin from Revenge Bakery. We take a look at some of the weirdest combinations that you can find whilst overseas.
The history of fried food in the USA
Frying food originated in the southern states of the USA as a way to save money. In typically poorer regions, households were having to utilise every part of the animal, as well as dining on cheaper cuts of meat, in order to make ends meet. As a result of this, families were often looking for ways in which they could create a flavour profile to mask any bad flavours. The introduction of frying also meant that their homes needn’t reach exceptionally high temperatures during the heat of summer, as the vats of hot oil could be heated up outside in no time at all.
Fried chicken is a hot commodity in America, available in restaurants and fast food joints across the length and breadth of the country. However, the art of frying poultry originated in Scotland during the middle ages, where the chicken was placed into vats of hot fat without any seasoning.
Towards the end of the 17th century, Scottish immigrants began to enter America, settling towards the south in states including Carolina and Virginia, bringing this cooking method with them. During this time, it was not uncommon for African slaves to work in the kitchens, some of which had picked up this technique of frying chicken. Incorporating this with their own knowledge of food, they applied a variety of different seasoning methods to the meat, transforming the medieval Scottish technique to the fried chicken which we would recognise today.
The following years saw fried food take many forms in the USA, including doughnuts, which were first recorded in a cookbook from 1803. However, it wasn’t until 1847, when a couple of decades had passed, that the classic ring shape was established. During a storm, a sailor needed to keep his hands free, so he could assist with the handling of the ship, subsequently impaling his doughnut on a spoke, thus creating the traditional ring shape that is widely sold today.
The United States has a few deep-fried specialities for you to try whilst on your around the world cruise holiday. One of which is the corndog. Although there are slight variations of this which can be found around the world in countries such as Australia and Argentina, they are typically associated with the USA.
It is thought that the corndog dates back to the late 1930s, although a patent was filed in 1927 and granted two years later for a “Combined Dipping, Cooking, and Article Holding Apparatus”. Sold most commonly by street vendors and as fast food, a corndog involves dipping a sausage, which has been speared by a stick, into a cornmeal batter, before frying.
The weirdest fried foods to try
In addition to the stereotypical fried foods, you can find a plethora of weird and potentially wonderful dishes on offer. “The weirdest food I have ever come across is fried bubblegum”, exclaims Marye from Restless Chipotle. From Missouri to Minnesota and from Iowa to New York, county state fairs are one of the highlights of the calendar. At events such as the State Fair of Texas and the Big Tex Choice Awards you can see competitors vie it out to create the most unique, yet tasty, fried dish, whereas the Arizona State Fair saw fried scorpions served up.
“Fat carries the flavour of food. In our society, we eschew fat in favour of ‘healthy low-fat alternatives’ which translates to ‘flavourless’. I think fried food is comfort food for most of us - usually associated with childhood comfort foods AND with the fat content we get all the flavour. Fried foods are go-to comfort foods for most of us”, explains Mayre.
Deep fried beer
In 2010, Mark Zable won the Most Creative award at the Big Tex Choice Awards for his fried beer, a dish which took him three years to come up with. Filling ravioli-style shapes with Guinness, the parcels are quickly dunked into boiling oil for 20 seconds, by which time they have cooked the salty dough whilst retaining the alcohol content of the beer.
Fat Elvis on a stick
A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup dipped in Banana Batter, deep-fried and served on a stick before being topped with Chocolate Sauce and Bacon Sprinkles. Found at the Wisconsin State Fair, this high-in-calorie option combines chocolate and bacon
Deep fried butter
Bizarrely, this isn’t a delicacy that wasn’t reserved especially for state fair competitions and is, in fact, now sold by vendors at events. Created by Abel Gonzales Jr., who has since been dubbed ‘Friend Jesus’, he too won the ‘Most Creative’ prize for his invention. Impaling a block of frozen butter with a stick, it is then dunked into a batter mixture to allow a coat to form before deep frying.
Deep fried coca cola
Although you can attribute most of the weirdest deep-fried concoctions to the Big Tex Choice Awards, it is not often that they go on to be sold worldwide. However, this isn’t the care for deep fried coca cola which can now be found on menus across the globe. Created by Sergio Guerrero Ble for the second instalment of the event, it sold 10,000 cups in its first fortnight on sale.
Deep fried lasagne
There is a number of different recipes of deep-fried lasagne online, where a batter is created to encase the lasagne into a pocket. Forming a deconstructed lasagne, the mincemeat mixture is placed inside pasta sheets with ricotta before being folded up into a triangle and deep-fried.