Live And Let Fry

Five years ago a man with completely honest intent created a baking contest amongst his friends called Pie Another Day. People who had never baked before found recipes, bought ingredients, and competed against their friends. Several years later, in an effort to make the competition friendlier to young hipster friends from work, a splinter group lobbied hard to hold a deep frying event after the pie competition. Submitted here for your approval: Live And Let Fry.

Pie judging commenced at 1pm, with pie consumption open to all by 1:30pm. By 2:15pm full itus had set in along with doubts about the group’s ability to forge ahead with Live And Let Fry.

With more determination than enthusiasm the fry team made for the kitchen. Head Chef Thom prepped his deep fryer as several others talked strategy and batter.

Nick, the contest’s host, had purchased more bite-sized candy bars and Oreos than could possibly be consumed in such a modest deep frying event. The kitchen window ledge showcased strange octopus-shaped marsallow lunch treats that Nick excitedly claimed were “on clearance- last two boxes on the shelf!”

In a bid to assure ourselves we weren’t just gluttonous toddlers, we planned to fry broccoli and zucchini as well. We looked at to read the latest deep fryer reviews, and opted for the best rated model.

Thom mixed batter components, refusing my request for panko crumbs. His watery first batch glooped off of his cookies and into the hot oil, wasted. We argued over batter ingredients. We Googled. We moved on, our research assuring us we were both kind of right about the batter.

The Oreo cookies turned out soft and yummy; frying boosted the cookies from nostalgia item to true comfort food.

At one point, overcrowding made the oil drop in temperature. Production slowed while we waited under orders from Thom. Heckling began. I reacted rashly to the pressure by impulsively dumping candy bars into oil that had all but stopped popping and hissing. Once finished, they were unappetizing oily sponges that people would try, then set down with a promise to finish eating them later. Simply testing the oil by dropping a bit of batter in and looking for the telltale crackle prevented this.

Eventually we hit a good groove. Friends grabbed at the golden brown lumps enthusiastically, and at our host’s insistence we finally added the crazy purple octopus cookie to the mix. That sugary outlier, too sweet in its natural state, became a fan favorite once balanced out by the batter.

The less successful bite-sized candy bars suffered a loss of sweetness after frying, overpowered by the heavy batter and oil. Inside of each nugget was a half-volume lump of confused texture and cague sweetness. Going light on the batter and again minding the oil temperature was crucial for these tiny treats.

Our most popular fried food was the dark horse zucchini. Popular in part because most of us were getting literally sick of sugar, the fried zucchini burst with flavor reminiscent of tempura when we added panko crumbs to the batter. Formidable broccoli also garnered high marks for cooking partially when deep fried, yet maintaining its firmness like a champ.

In the end, we learned crucial lessons in patience, having a solid batter recipe, and the necessity of hot, hot oil. Although it was a bit miserable and definitely completely unnecessary, we look forward to gathering multiple fryers and creating an event dedicated to deep fried deliciousness. Perhaps we can special order a trophy shaped like a golden fry basket.

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