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Deep Fried Oreos
Peter Tatara - December 7, 2008

I love street fairs. Every weekend in the summer, somewhere in New York City, a dozen blocks are closed to traffic and turned into a gaudy urban bazaar filled with cheap food and shitty trinkets. I never go looking for street fairs, but instead simply point in one direction and start walking. Sooner or later, I -- without fail -- run into row upon row of booths, tents, and stalls all hocking fried foods, poorly-made jewelry, or stolen iPods. I can't get enough. There's something special about egg rolls drowning in oil, pad thai made with linguini, or smoothies that are little more than dirty ice and bits of watermelon sloshed together. And, recently, I discovered the heaven that is cornbread pancakes smothered in mozzella cheese.

But this past weekend, wandering about a street fair running from Central Park down to Grand Central, my sights were locked on a different treasure. Deep Fried Oreos.

There're always a half dozen stalls with a vat of hot oil in the back and a smorgasbord of fried dough, fried onion rings, french fries, and deep fried oreos strewn out across the front. Previously, I've always been able to resist because the things look like they're made of heart attacks. This time, though, I was feeling adventurous. And stupid.

Step one? Get the girlfriend onboard. She'd come to the street fair to score some cheap stainless steel hoop earrings, and as long as my deep fried oreos didn't impair her ability to buy spotty jewelry, she was fine. Step two? Find a deep fried oreo stand. This was actually pretty difficult. Looking at the typical street fair, it's hard not to stumble into some guy selling deep fried oreos every few yards, but I had to walk block after block this time to find a single stall with these glorious, steaming, sunshine-soaked pearls. Step three? Buy the deep fried oreos. Like step two, this part of the plan also had its unforseen share of hiccups.

The stand selling the purses of yin yang delight was across from a makeshift stage, and atop the stage was a not-particularly-in-tune children's band. Bless them for coming down all the way down from the Bronx to show off their big-band styled brass numbers. I just wish they had rehearsed on the ride into Manhattan. Or gotten stuck in traffic. So, as the kids pumped out shrill, metallic music, I tried to catch the oreo lady's attention. I shouted but was drowned out by tubas, trombones, and oh, so many cymbals. I waved about my arms, but flagging her down was useless as she didn't even want to look in the direction of the band. Finally, I think I just reached into her stall, and with my fingers straining toward the nuggets of moist Americana, she got the picture. And rather than hand me any of the pre-made deep fried oreos resting on a cooking rack, she made a batch just for me. Dropping a handful of cookies into batter and then into some crackling-hot oil, she cooked each cookie until it was tender, flaky, crispy, and the color of summer.

She then dredged them in powdered sugar.

It was at this point that my girlfriend joined up with me. She sighed at the sight of the deep fried oreos yet ultimately asked me if she could have one. She could. But only one.

So, how were the cookies? What did they taste like? Nothing like I expected. I presumed deep fried oreos would taste like oreos encased inside a crispy, doughy crust. Nope. Instead, they taste like liquid oreos encased inside a crispy, doughy crust. See, I didn't realize that the extreme temperatures of a deep fryer cause an oreo to become a soup. It's contained just fine inside its deep fried shell, but be aware that the center of a deep fried oreo -- both the chocolate and the cookie -- has turned into fluid. And it's tongue-scaling hot. And, and, that first bite kinda makes it explode.

Yes, that's right, I got face-melting oreo juice all over me and my clothes. Had to drop off my coat at the dry cleaner on the way home. Surprisingly, he didn't ask any questions.

So, if you find yourself face to face with a deep fried oreo, I enthusiastically recommend you dig right in, just be aware the encapsulated cookie has the potential to burn your lips and ruin that new jacket you got at H&M.

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