By Anne Nelson
Globe Staff / April 14, 2010

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DES MOINES — If you’ve never had a fresh, perfectly grilled pork chop, cut thick so it sears on the outside and stays juicy on the inside, then you may want to visit the Iowa State Fair. Really. Iowans eat high-quality pork all year, but the pork chops served at the fair are the best pork chops in the world.

Of course they are. For 11 days every August, the Iowa Pork Producers Association sets up grills and tables and tents and gets down to the serious business of pork promotion. The governor stops by at least once every fair for a dinner special: one chop or two, served with applesauce and potato chips. And presidential candidates, the ones hoping to do well in the caucuses, always make time for a photo-op and a chop. But the chance to see Mitt Romney kissing a pork-fed baby isn’t the point.

It’s the pork. All you need are your own paper plate and napkin, plastic fork and knife, and that glorious Iowa chop. A local breed of political celebrity, the Pork Princess, will stop by to refill your ice water and visit. An ambassador for her state’s proudest industry, she earned her tiara and scholarship money by knowing a lot about pigs, and may end up running her own hog operation after a few years at Iowa State.

After the chop, you might even think she should run for president.

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