This year’s Stampede midway foods will leave you asking questions

Stampede organizers are really pushing the limits on extreme food to Fear Factor levels of dining

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The Calgary Stampede’s midway food has a reputation for raising eyebrows, and occasionally turning stomachs.

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This year is no different, with some dishes pushing the limits on extreme foods while others are quirky and out-of-the-box culinary creations. With more than 40 new items on the midway menu and dozens of vendors, organizers promise there will be something for every taste.

The midway will have some thrilling new additions, including the Meal Worm Hot Dog, Cajun Fried Cheese Curd Poutine and the Crazy Tongue Pizza — featuring tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, slow-braised AAA Alberta cow tongue, pineapple, caramelized onions and a Baja chipotle drizzle.

A dish catching quite a bit of attention is Kraft Dinner soft serve.

“We’re just thrilled to welcome guests back with these new food offerings, as well as traditional food offerings like cotton candy, corn dogs, mini doughnuts — everything that our guests love every year,” Kyle Russell, director of Calgary Stampede programming, said at a media event.

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“The idea we’re thinking with Stampede programming this year is that if you close your eyes and think about what made you fall in love with the Stampede, it’s going to be offered this year and will remind you why you fell in love with Stampede in the first place.”

Russell said they received submissions from vendors across North America year-round. The midway team at the Stampede looks for food items that will be unique to Stampede and attract foodies from far and wide. He said Stampede is the biggest event for many vendors and food trucks, so having a full event again this year will help them recover financially from pandemic-related losses.

“We did have a lot of vendors come last year and we were thrilled that they came with their crazy food ideas, but our vendors really did go the extra mile this year with multiple crazy foods,” he said.

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A sample of Happy Fish’s Unagi Sushi Taco at the Calgary Stampede midway food launch event.
A sample of Happy Fish’s Unagi Sushi Taco at the Calgary Stampede midway food launch event. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

The Happy Fish food truck is well known for its giant squid on a stick. But this year, it’s adding an Unagi Sushi Taco and Octopus Rangoon for those who might not be able to eat an entire giant squid but still want to try something new.

“My ideas come from travel — even though I haven’t been able to travel with COVID we came up with these new ideas,” said Ying Yan Situ, with the Happy Fish food truck.

“Stampede is our biggest event in the year. We see so many people, so we try to do something that brings people to our truck to try our dish.”

The Octopus Rangoon is a crispy won ton shell filled with crab meat, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese and diced octopus. The Unagi Sushi Taco features barbecue Unagi eel fish, sushi rice, crab meat and cucumber.

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Postmedia journalist Stephanie Babych tries BaoBaos at The Dumpling Hero food truck.
Postmedia journalist Stephanie Babych tries BaoBaos at The Dumpling Hero food truck. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

The Dumpling Hero food truck has come up with some fun creations at previous Stampedes, and this year they brought it again.

Tracy Cheng, co-owner of Dumpling Hero, said she came up with the idea for the Pig-kle while she was experiencing pregnancy cravings. The Pig-kle is deep-fried pork belly and slaw, served between a giant pickle and sprinkled with gold leaf.

They also added Bao Baos, which are three bao-inspired tacos with pork belly, shrimp tempura and fried avocado.

“A lot of the items are inspired by stuff we eat every day but we want to put a twist on them,” she said. “The Bao Baos, the bread itself is a very traditional Asian staple food.”

Cheng said it’s great to be back for a full Stampede, after a slower couple of years for the food truck industry.

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Duck Pond Lemonade, courtesy Family Squeezed Lemonade.
Duck Pond Lemonade, courtesy Family Squeezed Lemonade. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

The Duck Pond Lemonade from Family Squeezed Lemonade might be one of the cutest items on the menu. The lemonade is served in an oversized cup with flavoured boba and little floating rubber ducks.

There are quite a few curious lemonades on the midway menu, with Family Squeezed also serving a Lemon Meringue Lychee Lemonade. Also on the list is the Cotton Candy Lemonade, in case there wasn’t enough sugar in the drink already.

Waffle Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich.
Waffle Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

The Cookie Dough Stand will be offering a mini-donut cookie dough, but their feature item is the Waffle Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich. Imagine an ice cream sandwich, but replace the cookies on either side with thick waffles and add cookie dough to the ice cream centre.

The full list of new menu items is available on the Calgary Stampede’s website. The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is scheduled to take place at Stampede Park from July 8 to 17.

[email protected]
Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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