When the weather turns warm, festivals pop up in celebration of cultures, foods, crafts, arts and music. It's a time of outdoor concerts, exhibits and patriotic displays with opportunities for community involvement. As with all celebratory occasions, these festivals offer a large variety of foods. When festival-goers work up an appetite, vendors are on hand to supply them with much-needed snack foods.
Regular popcorn, with glistening butter and plenty of salt, or even plain popcorn for the waist watcher, finds lots of takers at summer festivals. This savoury treat is loved by many and little else needs to be done to make most snackers happy. Still, there are variations that add a little extra personality to a bag of popcorn. Some people like a little garlic or onion salt and other herbs added. A touch of dry salad dressing mix or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese can perk up popcorn. For a sweet variation, try caramel popcorn or popcorn with a candied glaze.
Ethnic summer festivals offer foods with distinct flavours that are associated with various countries and their cultures. A Greek festival will likely sell baklava, a pastry made from very delicate and crispy filo dough that is layered with a mixture of walnuts and sugar. A lemon and honey syrup is poured over it while warm. Souvlaki, or seasoned grilled meat, makes a hearty festival snack as does a gyro made of lamb and pork portions and wrapped in a pita. Fried ice cream is a Mexican festival favourite, along with nachos and cheese, tacos, empanadas, Mexican wedding cookies and portions of tres-leches cakes. Attend a Cajun-Creole festival to find snack-size portions of fried gator tail, fried frog legs, gumbo, jambalaya, crayfish etouffe, bananas foster, pecan pralines and beignets.
Deep-Fried Novelty Foods
The trend of deep-fried novelty foods includes the deep-fried chocolate bar and other unconventional items. Filled cookies are dipped in batter and fried, as are miniature snack cakes, dill pickles and cheese. Onion blooms are made by slicing a large onion vertically but leaving an intact base. The onion is dipped into batter and deep-fried. It resembles a large blooming chrysanthemum and is served with a container of dipping sauce that sits in the centre. Several kinds of fried dough make appearances at festivals including funnel cakes, doughnuts and elephant ears. Curly fries are made of potatoes that are cut in a continuous piece. A similar technique cuts a continuous spiral of potato that is flat like a chip, creating a scalloped presentation after frying.
Foods on a Stick
Foods on a stick provide no muss, no fuss convenience for enjoying festival snack foods. One of the most traditional foods on a stick is the corn dog. This consists of a hot dog threaded onto a wooden skewer, dipped into a pancake-like batter and then fried. Sometimes chicken tenders are prepared the same way. Some snack meats on a stick are not battered, but are grilled instead, as with satay. Sausages are another type of skewered meat. Buttery corn on the cob is less messy to eat when it is served on a stick. Sweet snacks on a stick include candied apples, bananas dipped into chocolate and the popular candyfloss made of spun sugar.