WRAL.com at the State Fair

Food Expo has food, folks, and AC

Posted June 8, 2008

There's something wonderfully hedonistic about eating a barbecue sammich at 10am.

But don't blame me. Got to Be NC cranked up the barbecue sales at about that time, and buying the sandwich supported a good cause. And eating it while we waited for the Food Expo to open gave us a little time to think of other possible names for this festival:

Can't Believe the Humid-ity

Going To Get Swea-ty

Got to Have AC

Drink A Quart of Iced Tea

Actually, though it was very hot even at 10am, there was a nice breeze blowing. In the shade it was almost pleasant. And there was the Food Expo -- the nice, air-conditioned Food Expo -- to duck into when it got really hot outside.

When I first wrote about Got to Be NC's Food Expo I mentioned that I would be getting a pile of boiled peanuts with Texas Pete on top. I thought I was kidding, but apparently I wasn't. There were lots of peanut products -- brittle, boiled, clusters, chocolate -- and lots of hot sauce available. (the Texas Pete people were giving out little bottles of hotter Texas Pete and Texas Pete with garlic in it.)

But there were other things, too. There was ice cream, ice pops, and Diet Mountain Dew. There was grass-fed beef, very fancy caramel apples, strawberry milk, and liver pudding. There was jerk sauce and all kinds of jellies and jams. And I was a little more surprised than I probably should have been when I saw that both NC Republicans and NC Democrats had booths in the Food Expo. The party was at the Mama Lou's booth where a DJ was playing some great tunes.

One of the hot options at the Expo is called Just My Taste, a jalapeno concoction from Pinetown, North Carolina. It looks rather like a relish but can be used as a topping, marinade, cooking sauce, or dip. I am kind of a chicken about really spicy stuff and just walking by the Just My Taste booth was enough to clear my sinuses. My husband, who DOES like spicy stuff, pronounced Just My Taste "good and hot". I bought a jar and am currently perusing the recipes at http://www.justmytaste.com/. The summer squash recipe looks good. You can buy Just My Taste at local specialty grocers, but it'll be in Harris Teeter starting July 1.

My award for absolute most unusual item at the Expo goes to the bamboo pickles. Yup. Circles of bamboo, pickled. They're brought to you by Carla Faw Squires, one of the Bamboo Ladies ( http://www.bambooladies.com/ .) Carla's grandmother started the bamboo pickling in the early 1970s. The round pickles are available in Whole Foods and other specialty food retailers around the state. What do they taste like? I like pickled okra a lot. The bamboo is piquant like pickled okra, but less crunchy. These pickles would be nice to toss in some tuna salad if you didn't want to eat them by themselves.

Speaking of food, I also got to try an Indian taco yesterday. The Indian taco was at an Illya's Concession booth on the new midway. An Indian taco is Indian fry bread (Illya's is owned by a Native American) piled with taco fixings and chicken or beef. Also it's about twice as big as a taco I'm used to. (See the picture above.) I got through about half of it and my husband had most of the rest, making lots of comments about the bread. ("Have you tried this bread? This bread is good!")

It's so hot today, though, I can't think about cooked food. All I can think about are nice cool things... cucumber vinegar salad, or maybe a tomato sandwich... pardon me while I go have lunch.

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