23 September, 2012

State Fair Food at the Big E: Fried Cheese Curds

Fifth in a series about State Fair food as served at the 2012 Big E (New England's Great State Fair)

If you live in New England or the Midwest US you probably know what cheese curds are and you've probably eaten them a time or two. For the rest of you, I'm faced with the task of trying to describe them. I guess the best way is to just call them "immature cheese." Cheese curds are the solid bits of curdling milk which, when processed and pressed together and aged, eventually become the sliced cheese you're more familiar with.

Really fresh cheese curds are kind of weird to eat. They're mild and milky-tasting, and very soft. They squeak against your teeth when you chew them - it's kind of cool, and also kind of creepy. But that squeak is also the key to knowing how fresh the curds are - as they age, the squeakiness fades and finally vanishes (and that can happen in as little as a day!) That's why when you buy cheese curds in a sealed plastic bag from the supermarket they're usually not really soft or squeaky.

Anyway, this whole lesson in the freshness of cheese curds is solely so you have a frame of reference for the fried cheese curds sold by The Big Cheese at the Big E. As we were strolling along the concession-laden boulevard between the Better Living Center and the Avenue of the States,The Big Cheese caught Lynnafred's eye because cheese curds are one of her favorite snacks. We've had fried cheese curds at KFC before and they were okay but never awesome, because at KFC the curds are soft and mild but never fresh enough to squeak.

Ah, but not the fried curds from The Big Cheese. They're lightly coated in batter and quickly fried until they're soft and warm inside but crispy and golden outside. And they squeak! Awesome!


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