The State Fair of Texas, the largest state fair in the country, just ended, leaving behind enough memories of chicken-fried bacon, deep-fried Nutella and double-fried Oreo cookies to sustain me for the entire next year.
Fairs are known (notorious?) for their fried foods, but it’s never the deep-fried confections that make me think “fair.” It’s Frito pies.
The first year I moved to Texas, friends and I went to a regional fair where they bellied up to a brightly lit food truck and ordered a Frito pie.
“A WHAT?” I wanted to know. To the best of my knowledge, I was never exposed to this ooey-gooey-crunchy delicacy growing up in Virginia.
Oh yes, they were devouring cardboard trays full of Fritos piled high with chili, cheese, onions, jalapenos and onion straws.
I didn’t cave to the Frito pie temptation that day (I remember I was wearing a white sundress and was afraid to spill), but I did try it at another fair, the Southeast Texas State Fair, a few years later. (After I had children it really didn’t matter what I was wearing; it was probably stained anyway.)
The entire basis of the pie, of course, is the iconic Fritos corn chip, not a tortilla chip or a potato chip but a crispy, salty blend of Fritos goodness. I like the proportions on my Frito pie to be mostly Fritos with a little chili, a lot of cheese and a little mustard (don’t judge). As I’m not a fan of raw onions, I skip this step but have been known to garnish with jalapeno pepper slices.
While Frito pie will always remind me of the fair, it’s certainly not exclusive to this venue. Enjoy them watching the game, tailgating or just for an easy, fun dinner one night!