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Supersize It

From spring through fall, we can always count on an enthusiastic group of volunteers
to whip up a super-sized version of their area’s favorite dish, many debuting
at Kentucky festivals.

There’s a sensibility that is split between the entities of “rural” and Ripley’s
when it comes to the annual task of blowing things out of proportion or outdoing
ourselves.

Kentucky has its own “big eats” map.

It’s not so much for hunger, building these giant testaments to sugar, eggs, fruit,
and chocolate, it’s an appetite for competition. Ask anyone who’s ever joined
a strategic community effort to construct the “best” or “biggest” anything and
you’ve just added gas to the sparks.

Making the biggest burger, drink, or dessert eventually stems from the mentality
of “Hey, ya’ll, watch this!” So the best thing to do is be a tourist in your own
back yard. Watch ’em strive for greatness, then scoop up all you can with civic
pride in one hand and a fork in the other.

Taking the Cake

With the Duncan Hines corporate hub in Bowling Green, it’s only fitting
that a 355-square-foot chewy, chocolate brownie (tipping the scales at 950 pounds)
be baked in the honor of its native son, Mr. Hines himself. Born in Bowling Green
in 1880, Duncan drove a Wells-Fargo wagon as his first job. He’d been grabbing
a meal on the run for years by the time he and his wife Florence traveled with
his printing sales job in the 1930s, logging the best and worst accommodations.
Together, they would jot down critiques of roadside dining establishments-either
balking at gravy that tasted of library paste or praising a pork roast.

Soon the sales gig was replaced by a publishing career for restaurants
on the road. Books such as Adventures in Good Eating, Lodging for a Night, and
The Art of Carving in the Home proved his hobby as a critic most lucrative.

The respect for a good meal and brisk business was followed by the company
that now bears his name-and it literally was a piece of cake after that. Duncan
Hines passed away in 1959 in the city of his birth. And since June 1999, Bowling
Green has been the home of the world’s largest brownie. The Duncan Hines Festival
held this year by-passed its own record once again. For more information on
next year’s June event, contact the Bowling Green Tourism Commission, (270)
782-0800, or go online at http://bowlinggreen.ky.net/DuncanHines/ on your computer.

Buy, Buy…This American Pie

Apple pie. It’s right up there with Mom and baseball.

Since 1974, the Casey County Apple Festival, held in Liberty, has been a boon
for the community, attracting up to 50,000 visitors each year. Its centerpiece,
the pie, takes more than just a rolling pin, cotton apron, and ingredients.
A special oven was made to bake, as the banner over Liberty claims, “The world’s
largest apple pie.” This pie measures 8 feet across and 6 inches deep. It takes
30 bushels of apples, 200 pounds of sugar, and spices, besides the huge crust,
to make a pie weighing 1,200 pounds that serves about 3,000 people a generous
helping.

The event, in its 26th year, takes place annually the last full week
in September. The festival starts off in low gear on Sunday with local events
such as beauty pageants.

Then on Wednesday night, the Casey County folks gear up as they put their unique
pie pan and oven to good use. The town bakes a large chocolate chip cookie in
the city parking lot, and a Pizza Hut pizza on Thursday night, both served to
the public.

Things go into high gear on Friday morning when volunteers assemble the world’s
largest apple pie. Quite a sight it is when the forklift lifts the pie into
the preheated oven, where it cooks all day and into the wee hours of Saturday.
With the heat turned to low, the pie awaits volunteers who at noon on Saturday
scoop delicious apples and buttery crust into bowls for drooling onlookers.

As if a giant brownie, pizza, and apple pie weren’t enough, the festival
showcases music and all types of vendors offering food, arts, crafts, and lots
more. Vendors are open for business Thursday afternoon through late Saturday
evening. The three main days of this year’s festival are September 28-30. For
your piece of the pie, call the Casey County Chamber of Commerce at (606) 787-6463.

Big Chops, Big Meringues

There are lots of family-owned, down-home eateries with delicious Southern-cooked
food in Kentucky, but one name comes up when you talk about big eats.

The Tullar family took over a wide spot in the road with a motel and hamburger
stand, and it wasn’t long until it became a legendary destination for hungry
travelers seeking pies and porkchops from afar. With stellar food and atmosphere
reviews from our gracious Southern Living to those west coasters who do Bon
Appetit, it’s apparent that the down-home cookin’ and company have charmed quite
a range of guests. And what, besides the family entertainment, animal park,
gardens, streams, log cabins, and gift shop, lures them to Grand Rivers?

Two reasons and they’re big ones: Two-Inch Thick Pork Chops and Mile-High Meringue
Pie. Located near the shores of Lake Barkley, Patti’s 1880s Settlement is almost
a village unto itself, and the chops are so big they should have their own zip
code.

I asked, and yes, they do go through a lot of to-go boxes. Customers
have learned to pace themselves, however, knowing they should save their fork
for dessert. The meringue stands 6-8 inches high and the flavors are chocolate,
coconut, or lemon, baked fresh daily.

Here’s something to cluck about: it takes 22 eggs to make one pie!

A big slice of heaven, with its own cloud, is $3.99. You can also log onto
your computer at
www.pattis-settlement.com
for specialized cooking instructions for the king-sized
chops, or write or call Patti’s at 1793 J.H. O’Bryan Avenue, Grand Rivers, KY
42045, (888) 736-2515.

Good Morning, Governor

One of the biggest meals in the Bluegrass is the annual Governor’s Derby
Breakfast, held each year on Derby morning the first Saturday in May in Frankfort.
The number fed is around 11,000. There are estimates of 20,000 people at the
breakfast, but not all of them dig in with the same indulgence as, say, you
or I.

And we’re not just talking bran muffins and herbal tea. The spread includes
2,000 pounds of eggs, over 600 country hams, 340 pounds of sausage, 50 bushels
of apples, 150 gallons of grits, 10,000 biscuits and pastries, 6,500 muffins,
and coffee.

One would think being invited to the Governor’s Derby Breakfast is a
black-tie, invitation-only event. Take heart, this annual event welcomes all
of Kentucky’s finest as well as common folk just like you and me. Simply show
up on the Capitol lawn and get ready to chow down. When the event rolls around
again next May, you can get more information by calling (800) 960-7200.

BBQ Lovers

The three most important letters of the alphabet in western Kentucky
are B, B, and Q. Owensboro has the International Bar-B-Q Festival, which probably
has the largest consumption of marinated meat in the world.

The second full weekend in May is when the black kettle comes out of
its resting place at Moonlite Barbecue and is placed smack dab in the middle
of the throngs. The black kettle is synonymous with the internationally known
festival and may be the closest thing to a mascot.

Local churches and charity groups compete with each other for taste,
spice, kick, and other fine qualities. So

what do they serve up with their hundreds of sauces and ribs? Try 5,000 chickens,
1,500 gallons of burgoo, and more than 10 tons of mutton just for starters.
Get out there and try to hunt down the secret sauce recipes. For more information,
log onto your computer at
www.bbqfest.com
or call (270) 926-6938.

Off the Farm, and Into the Frying Pan

What Colonel Sanders and his nephew Lee seemed to agree on is that Laurel
County was the place to nestle down for a booming chicken business. It’s only
a shame that Daniel Boone, as much as he traversed the Cumberland Plateau, couldn’t
enjoy the modern conveniences of a Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-through. Killing
and eating a “bar” (as said of ol’ Daniel’s tree carving for “bear”) doesn’t
even come close to the Colonel’s secret spices and cole slaw!

This year marks the 11th annual Chicken Festival in London and the centerpiece
is every hen’s greatest moment and worst fear-the world’s largest skillet. It’s
10 feet, 6 inches in diameter, 8 inches deep, has an 8-foot handle, and weighs
700 pounds. For you craftsmen, it’s 11-gauge, hot-rolled steel. For you cooks,
it’s divided into four cooking sections mounted on a steel frame and requires
300 gallons of cooking oil to fill. For you hungry fellows, it can cook 600
quarters of chicken at one time!

Here’s some stats to chew on: cooking 8,000 pieces requires about 375
pounds of flour, 75 pounds of salt, 30 pounds of pepper, 30 pounds of paprika,
and the World Chicken Festival’s special ingredients.

About 60 gallons of natural gas (more than an average family would use in
a year) are required to cook 8,000 pieces of chicken at temperatures between
325 and 350 degrees. So lick your fingers and get four bucks ready for a big
plate of supper plus a slew of other crafts, activities, and events. The festival
takes place September 21-24 in beautiful downtown London. For more information,
log onto your computer at www.chickenfestival.com,
or call (800) 348-0095.

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