Unfair food fight: Tasty vs. healthy at the Puyallup Fair

You can't swing a Krusty Pup in a half circle without hitting a booth selling deep-fried something or other at the Puyallup Fair.

Judging from the lines at Earthquake Burger, the Sausage Shack and Totally Fried booths during opening weekend, it didn’t appear many fair-goers were concerned with caloric intake.

My mission was to find the tastiest food, regardless of fat grams, calories or, well, any nutritional value at all.

I took along self-described “iron stomach” and News Tribune staffer David Montesino – whose claim to fame is consuming six Earthquake burgers in one day – to help me eat my way through the fair.

Here’s what we ate, in order of preference.

Killer Kielbasa, $8.50

Location: Sausage Shack, near Blue Gate

The taste: A loaded Killer Kielbasa served on a stadium roll stuffed with sautéed onions, peppers and a tangle of sauerkraut. The oversized kielbasa dripped pork juice and popped with puckery bursts of mustard seed with every snappy, porky bite. The kielbasa is plenty for two eaters, so that makes it a good bargain (compared with other items sampled here – none of which are exceptional values).

Bacon wrapped jalapeno popper, $5.50

Location: Totally Fried booth, near Blue Gate

The taste: This dish is everything you know about bar jalapeno poppers, only replace the crispy breading with a chewy, thick, smoky bacon jacket. The jalapeno was spicy, but not overly so. I liked the texture: Chewy bacon yielded to a roasted jalapeno that kept some of its crunchy snap, with a final taste of gooey cream cheese. A bit on the spendy side for three stuffed jalapenos, but fair and value are not synonymous.

Beef and cheese piroshky, $7.50

Location: Kaleenka Piroshky booth, near Pavilion

The taste: Breaking the beef and cheddar cheese piroshky in half was like cracking open a Russian cheeseburger. Golden-brown fried dough broke to a steaming hot interior of melted, gooey channels of cheddar cheese and tasty, savory seasoned ground beef. I had my eye on the salmon piroshky, but I’m glad I stuck with the oversized beef and cheddar, which was enough to feed two.

Cheesequake Burger, $9.98

Location: Earthquake Burger booth near Blue Gate

The taste: For a giant burger, it was surprisingly cooked all the way; juicy, but no trace of pink. The half-pound burger is at least 6 inches across and feeds two easily. While the American cheese was melted and grilled onions browned, the overall taste of the burger was just that: onions and cheese. This burger lacked beefy flavor. Even more disappointing, the texture was mushy. The heat of the meat turned the bun floppy.

Philly cheesesteak sandwich, $6.95

Location: Philly and Sausage booth, International Food Court

The taste: I liked that we could watch our Philly cheesesteak made to order, and the line cook used all the right techniques as he cling-clanged the thinly sliced steak on the grill, topped it with cheese, followed by grilled green peppers and onions, before flipping the meat, cheese and veggies into a warm, fresh hoagie roll. The result was a hot, gooey gut bomb. The steak tasted a bit too sinewy and the white processed cheese had a plastic quality, but the copious pile of green peppers and onions were appreciated.

Krusty Pup, $4.07

Location: Krusty Pup locations throughout the fairgrounds

The taste: Normally, when biting into a Krusty Pup corn dog, it’s a delicious, crunchy experience, but this Krusty Pup was undercooked and was more raw-doughy than crispy corn dog delicious. Had it been cooked for just a bit longer, I would have eaten more than a bite. If you get a doughy Krusty Pup, at that price, I’d demand another.

Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270