Deep-fried Twinkies? How 2007. At the 2014 Maryland State Fair, you can get deep-fried Berger cookies… or deep-fried cream cheese larva balls. Yes, larva as in edible worms. “By the time you’re 30, you’ve already eaten 20 bugs in your sleep anyway,” Brian Shenkman, the dish’s creator, told Baltimore Magazine. Hmmm.
Hearing about the deep-fried cream cheese worm balls put me in an odd position. I really, really wanted to know what they tasted like, but I also really, really didn’t want to eat them. Lucky for me, Baltimore Fishbowl correspondent Justin Getka is a man of adventurous tastes. He went to the fair last night, ate the worms, and lived to tell the tale. This is his report:
I’d heard about the deep fried cream cheese with larvets from my friend Heather who’d gone to the fair earlier in the week. No one in her group had any interest in trying them. But I’m not someone who can go without trying anything weird that I spot on a menu. When I ordered “the fried cream cheese thing” the guy at the booth asked if I wanted larvets or no larvets. I said I obviously wanted larvets. Who would want to eat a fried ball of plain cream cheese? I handed him five dollars and he handed me an index card that said FRIED CREAM CHEESE WITH LARVETS. About five minutes later I handed the card to another guy and he asked if I wanted powdered sugar or chocolate syrup on my fried balls. I said I obviously wanted both. He topped off the balls and handed me a paper boat containing three golfball-sized blobs of brown fried dough covered in sugar and chocolate with a toothpick protruding from each. I shoved one into my mouth and it was burning hot. The consistency of the cream cheese was like glue.
The flavor was something close to hot ranch dressing. I think I’d forgotten what cream cheese tastes like as it’s not something I consume very often. At first I thought they’d forgotten the larvets, as I didn’t see any sticking out of the balls like in the picture on the sign. The whole thing was soft and melty inside and I’d expected the larvet to reveal itself with some sort of crunchiness. But I probed through the second one and they were indeed in there; their consistency reduced to that of a mushy noodle. Clearly their purpose in this dish was merely to be a novelty as I don’t think they contributed anything to the taste. I didn’t even feel like eating the remaining two balls. The flavor was gross at worst and bland at best.
The thickness of the glop inside made chewing and swallowing a chore. But I ate them. And immediately followed them up with a Crab Patty, the other unique fair food I’d heard about this year; a crabcake topped with a softshell crab and served as a sandwich. Much better. I do not recommend the deep fried cream cheese with larvets, and I don’t know what kind of insane person would even dream up such a food item.