TAKING IN THE MIDWAY’S FARES
Calgary summer is short and sweet. It’s a couple months of warmth, long evenings and a seemingly endless party. In a place where the residents are forced into hibernation, Calgary comes to life in the summer months celebrating through a series of festivals and gatherings. Providing a destination for thousands of tourists who hope to take in a bit of the Wild West, besides the flowing alcohol and ever-present cowboy hat, food is a constant.
For some, the cost of admission is not an invitation to rides, concerts and beer gardens but an invitation to gorge themselves on everything new and grotesque in Stampede cuisine. There is an adage about calories not counting during Stampede and, hopefully for the throngs of attendees, cholesterol doesn’t matter either. This year, Stampede deep-fry artists are playing with our palates pairing the savoury with sweet in a variety of twisted combinations. A traditional elephant ear takes an interesting turn when wrapped around bacon and a banana and deep-fried. Dipping things in chocolate is a trend this year, covering everything from jalapeños to a bacon-wrapped apple (a new delicious low).
Stampede fare is also getting a little worldlier than in the past, now serving up Chinese shrimp crackers and an egg roll on a stick. You can also find tacos, flautas and curry. But, there is much to be excited for on the deep fried scene: pie, Doritos, a rolled-up Philly cheese steak sandwich, avocado (the only item with potential for any nutritional value) and bubble gum (who knows how or why). Previous deep fried standbys are also back, including the Oreo, Kool-Aid and corn dogs. Deep-fried butter has not yet been banned and will be at the park again this year. In case all of this deep-fried amazingness makes you thirsty, it can be washed down with a pickle juice shooter, new this year and definitely bound to be a hit.
If you decide you’d rather branch out of the Midway, you will have a chance the evenings of July 11-13, when the grounds will be descended upon by the best in Calgary street food during a food truck rally. At a time when Calgary is awash with tourists, potentially-tipsy oil and gas executives, cowboy hats and the smells of a deep fryer, waistlines can happily take a back seat to the joys of everything that is weird and wonderful as deep-fried, chocolate-dipped catastrophes.
By Emily WhyteAB, Alberta