The Big Idaho Potato Truck’s marriage to the Omaha Steaks Truck last year has proven to be a tough, long distance relationship. We have yet to do more than pass through town since our shotgun wedding, which has caused many to call into question, the seriousness of the union between steak and potatoes. It wasn’t until this last weekend in Magnolia, Arkansas (of all places), that we were able to once again rejoice in a bond that has proven to be stronger than even the glycosidic ones that join the glucose units in potatoes. If there was a moral to this story, it would be the confirmation that distance doth make the heart grow fonder; and fond we are of the Magnolia Blossom Festival and their World Championship Steak Cook-off.
Our big spud had some catching up to do since it has been a fairly meatless year since the ceremony. Magnolia had the answer: over 80 teams from across the country, cooking up over 3800 steaks. Thousands of people came from neighboring cities to revel in the smell of cooking cow more so than the smell of any magnolia blossoms. The Big Idaho Potato was right at home. In fact, there were Idaho Potatoes everywhere! Apparently everyone was in agreement that steak is indeed the best side you can have with your baked Idaho potato. Spud Stud 1 was pretty close to taking one on his self at the steak eating competition. He would have had to sit down and finish a 64 oz. steak; baked Idaho potato, salad and dinner roll in 45 minutes, going head-to-head with other local competitors. Needless to say he passed on the opportunity as he was hoping to enjoy the rest of his weekend.
But both of the Spud Studs got their opportunity to gorge out on the final day of the festival. Along with a steak cook off, 46 teams entered into a side competition where they had to prepare the best appetizers on their grills. I can honestly report that taking 46 small bites of anything adds up real fast. The little treats came rolling in and it took us over 2 hours to make it through all the entries. We saw everything from smoked salmon to boudin to Mexican mac n’ cheese. The three most popular themes were: things wrapped in bacon (I don’t think there are any cows or pigs left in Arkansas right now), sliders and, believe it or not, potatoes! As you can imagine, the dishes with that last ingredient did get some brownie points (someone must have tipped them off as to who the judges were). After it was all said and done, it was all we could do just to lie there on the table, surrounded by our well-intentioned leftover portions… trying not to vomit.
It was hard to leave Magnolia. Sometimes it is the smallest towns that have the biggest love for our spud. The southern hospitality was in no short supply and we were honored to be able to give something back with our $500 donation to the local organization: The Stew Pot. I don’t know if we’ll ever be back, but with our bellies and our hearts full, hopefully we can keep paying it forward as we continue on down this road.
-Spud Stud Deuce