Weekend Eats: Indiana State Fair and Portuguese Bacalhau

What does Indiana taste like? Like anyplace, depending on where you go, it tastes different. Last weekend was my first taste of the Indiana State Fair. While roasted corn and pork tenderloin sandwiches were obvious favorites, I looked for a mix of the expected and the out of place, like bison egg rolls (popular enough to run out by 3pm). I did have fried green tomatoes, a chicken gyro, beef tips with mashed potatoes and mushrooms, garlic chicken burrito, a pineapple whip and an elephant ear. 

Let me briefly, explain the crazy quantity of food I consumed. It was band competition day at the fair and I had to kill 8 hours between my daughter’s performance. And, I did share (some of it).

While deep fried food rules the fair, I did not partake in the deep fried candy. There is only so much I can eat.


There were animals: a poultry and rabbits building, a swine building, a cow building, Llamas, and horses. There were crafts like basket weaving, woodworking, sewing, etc. There were farm equipment and demonstrations. There were historical recreations. It was a celebration of Indiana farm produce and industry broadly understood. There was also swirling, dropping, rushing and bright carnival fair rides and games.  I’m not quite sure how band-day relates to this except for offering a large open venue for a competition. It was quite the experience. 8 hours may have been too long but the fair is certainly worth 3 hours of rides, food, and observation.

Sunday was a day of recovery from sitting on stadium metal benches, the late night drive back, the afternoon heat, and the carnival level noise. Our one meal of the day involved the Portuguese “Try the World” box that included bacalhau, Jack Mackerel toasts and then tea and cookies. Surprisingly my favorite was the not-so-good-looking Jack Makerel on toasted baguette slices. The fish canned in olive oil and spice  was soft and not overtly “fishy.” For me, the piri piri sauce made that dish sing the high notes of lemony heat.The bacalhau (not made with traditional salted cod but fresh) was also delicious. Although the bay leaf pieces and large spices were choking hazards and unpleasant in the mouth, the flavor was light and summery. I very much liked the cooking technique under the broiler for 10 minutes on a bed of greens and tomatoes and then another two with garlicky, olive oil coated bread crumbs. I’d like to try that technique with other fish and flavor combinations. A light summer dinner done in 15 minutes.


Here is the broiling technique,

  1. Season fleshy thick fish pieces (Cod, salmon, tuna and the like) with whatever seasoning you like.

  2. Sprinkle lemon and drizzle olive oil.

  3. Place fish over a bed of spinach, sliced tomatoes and onions.

  4. Add chicken stock to cover the bottom of the baking pan.

  5. Broil for 10 minutes.

  6. Combine 1 cup of bread crumbs with olive oil to coat every granule, crushed garlic and red pepper.

  7. Spoon bread crumbs over fish, broil for another 2 minutes.



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