Having spent serious (well, not too) time in New Orleans, I consider myself well-versed in All Things Fried. Until I read about the 2014 Big Tex Choice Awards, and was forced to admit my naivete. The awards are the State Fair of Texas’ annual food and beverage competition, known for inspiring such fare as chicken-fried bacon, fried macaroni and cheese, and—seriously—fried Coke. Out of eight finalists, Clint Probst’s Fried Shrimp Boil took the prize for Best Tasting. The “Most Creative” nod was given to Justin Martinez’s Funnel Cake Ale. “I noticed specialty beers were becoming more popular,” he remarked. “I thought, what if I could make a limited edition?” Chef Tiffany Derry, one of the judges, said of Probst’s concoction, “[E]verything you’d expect in a shrimp boil rolled into a ball, dusted with fish fry and fried to a golden brown…”
Other finalist dishes were deep-fried “breakfast for dinner,” chicken-fried loaded baked potato, and (for my money) spicy fried Sriracha balls. All of these—including Martinez’s light-bodied ale—will be on hand at the fair Sept. 26 to Oct 19. I want a photo of that fried Coke.