The big yellow barn

Yesterday, we stored our camper at Jason’s parents’ place and then had a leisurely breakfast. On our way home, we passed this place.

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So we stopped.

This place will put a smile on your face. The smells alone are worth the trip: Fresh-baked lefse, long-forgotten candy, homemade fudge, thick-cut bacon, fresh apples. Two seconds after we got in the door, an older gentlemen practically grabbed Jason by the lapels to exclaim happily, “Isn’t this place great?!?”

YUP.

I spotted this right away.

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Buffalo wing-flavored soda. Part of me wanted to buy it, but part of me definitely did not. Next time.

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In the grand scheme of things

Last weekend after coming home from camping and spending the next five hours in a unending stream of necessary chores (popping the camper back up to dry out, draping our blankets and sleeping bags over the patio furniture for the same reason, taking a blissful post-camping shower, doing a quick clean of the house to keep up with the pretense that we’re not being held hostage by a thin layer of cat hair, and doing a grocery/Target run), we decided to call in for a pizza for dinner.

I dialed the number and was immediately asked if I could hold. After five minutes, I hung up. I mean, I have my expectations, you know? I call, the phone rings, someone answers in a reasonable amount of time, I order, and someone brings me pizza and wings directly to my doorstep. That’s how it works, right? Only Jason was shocked: “Why did you do that? Now we’ll be at the end of the queue!”

So I called back and was once again put on hold. After another few minutes I finally got to place my order and asked how long delivery would take: “More than an hour.”

Since my blood sugar levels were at an all-time low and I was quickly approaching Hangry Territory, I said, “OK, I’ll come pick it up.”

At this point I was starving and had been on my feet nearly all day cleaning or running errands or whatever, and basically I just wanted some damn pizza.

When I walked into the pizza place, the lone guy there greeted me with, “I tried to call you. We’re out of traditional wings. Do you want boneless instead?”

Now wings are pretty much my favorite food ever and the boneless ones tend to irritate me with their pseudo-wingness. But the guy looked harried and he had attempted to call me to alert me to the situation, so I said that would be fine and sat back to wait the required 10 minutes before they were ready.

And then, as minorly annoyed as I was (fueled mostly by my raging hunger), I felt my annoyance immediately dissipate because it was obvious that someone had called in sick and this employee was doing all he could to stay alive. The phone kept ringing, the ovens kept beep-beep-beeping, and delivery drivers kept coming in and asking questions about their next destination.

And this employee was doing his damnedest to keep up: taking orders, pulling out fresh pizzas and cutting them, sending the drivers out on their assignments. (“And don’t forget to swing by the BP location to pick up some wings!”)

An elderly gentleman then came in to pick up his pizza and after waiting barely two seconds for the employee to notice him, he snapped, “Where’s my pizza?”

The employee looked everywhere while the old guy literally tapped his foot in impatience before he realized a driver must’ve grabbed it by mistake. “I’m so sorry, sir. One of our drivers accidentally took it. I’ll make you a free one, and it’ll take just 10 minutes.”

At that, the guy turned to me, rolled his eyes, said, “You BELIEVE this?” and stormed out, slamming the door as hard as he could.

The employee shrugged his shoulders in a “Whaddya gonna do?” gesture and got back to work. The phone was still ringing, the ovens were still beeping, and drivers were still filing in and out, part of a chaotic assembly line missing some parts but still getting the job done.

When my (boneless) wings were done, the employee handed them to me and as he searched for some containers of ranch dressing, he turned to me, stricken. “Oh, God. I’m so sorry. We’re out of ranch.”

“You know what?” I told him. “That’s OK. It doesn’t matter.”

Because it really didn’t.

State Fair 2009

We went to the Fair on Friday, and less than 30 seconds after we walked in the entrance, I found a stand that had frozen chocolate-covered bananas. Phew. Glad there didn’t need to be any frozen fruit theatrics this year.

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Welcome to Minnesota! Land of 10,000 Lakes and Deep-Fried Things!


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These were freaking delicious. Seriously: sheer perfection.


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It was a perfect, blue-sky kind of day.


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Jason took all of these photos. This one is my favorite.


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Minnesota’s own version of the Space Needle. Only not as cool.


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Baby ducks!


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The gangster mascot of The Great Minnesota Get Together, Fairchild. Dude had attitude.


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We ate dinner here. Battered and deep-fried alligator nuggets with alligator-shaped fries.


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You can’t tell in the picture, but there were angels singing. And why wouldn’t they be? Thick-cut bacon carmelized in maple syrup, yo!

Our food tally:

- Frozen chocolate-covered banana (Shauna)
- Cheese curds (shared)
- Teriyaki buffalo jerky (shared, plus we went back and bought two more packs because it was THAT GOOD)
- Chocolate shake (shared)
- Alligator nuggets (both)
- Mountain Dew (shared)
- Root beer (shared)
- Big Fat Bacon (both)

We really wanted some Sweet Martha’s Cookies and I had a craving for cotton candy for some reason, but we persevered. I never saw the Fry Dog, but my brother had one and said it was just OK.

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See you next year!

Masthead #34 – on a stick

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The Minnesota State Fair starts in less than two weeks, which means I have been waiting about FOUR MONTHS to get a frozen chocolate-covered banana. On a stick. I could make one myself, but I just want one, so that would be ridiculous. Anyway, when I was making this masthead (which practically made itself), I compiled my Tentative 2009 State Fair Food Eating Itinerary:

1. Alligator nuggets
2. Frozen chocolate-covered banana
3. Big Fat Bacon
4. Fry Dog, a french-fry encrusted hot dog

I also may have printed out a map of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and carefully labeled the location of the two vendors that claim they’ll have frozen chocolate-covered bananas. You better deliver, Ice Kreme Mill and Granny’s Cheesecake & More!

How about you? What’s your favorite fair food?