Calgary Stampede's strange, adventurous and downright buggy foods
Alanna Smith
July 6, 2019
July 6, 2019 10:07 PM EDT
Iím no stranger to the wild foods you find at the Calgary Stampede.
But I have to admit, thereís one thing I never thought Iíd try. Actually, make that a few things.
For starters, not once in my life have I thought about camel meat on a pizza, seaweed on a hotdog, a skewered octopus tentacle or ice cream topped with critters.
But, hey, isnít that the point of Stampede? Sometimes you just have to live on the wild side.
Here are a few of the odd, risky and downright buggy new Stampede foods on the midway this year.
Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary
Camel Pizza at Avatara Pizza
Camel pizza. Hmm. Not my top choice, Iíll admit.
Iím sure in other parts of the world this is common, but for me, I dub camel a bit of a mysterious meat.
Iím more of a Hawaiian or plain cheese pizza type of gal.
Before digging my teeth in a generous portion of camel sausage topped pizza, owner Chris Hurbe of Avatara Pizza told me what to expect.
ďItís really tasty. Nice and crunchy. You should experience a combination of flavours in your mouth like no other,Ē he said.
Despite my hesitations, I was pleasantly surprised. Turns out camel meat is tangy, a bit sweet, tender and packed with flavour. The pizza also had a real zing.
Iím a fan.
Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary
Monster Bug Bowl at Monster Cones
Kudos to anyone whoís willing to eat bugs. Not me, though.
I pushed my Stampede food-eating duties onto a willing participant (I promise!) who, unlike me, was willing to take a walk on the wild side.
The Monster Bug Bowl has multiple, heaping scoops of flavoured ice cream topped with dehydrated critters, including three different types of crickets, mixed larvae and, to top if off, a rhino beetle.
I couldnít stomach it, however Calgarian Sean Robertson could.
ďI taste the chocolate. I taste the cherry ice cream. The bug is really just like a texture thatís really unsettling. You can feel the legs and stuff in your mouth,Ē said Robertson.
ďIf you want to challenge yourself and try this ice cream, go for it. It will test your willpower.Ē
He said the smaller bugs were easier to stomach.
The ice cream (maybe obviously) was his favourite part.
Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary
Octo-Leg and Octo-Lolly at The Catch
This new midway booth is the brainchild of the people behind Family Squeezed Lemonade. You know, the ones that have cotton candy, cookie dough and lemonade. Itís safe to say this isnít their traditional fare.
Two daring items hitting the Stampede are the Octo-Leg and Octo-Lolly, what Jennifer Andrews, owner of Family Squeezed Lemonade, said are funky, deluxe seafood options.
Postmedia photographer Azin Ghaffari decided she would take the plunge and try a three-piece mini octopus lollipop and huge octopus tentacle skewered on a stick.
First up, the Octo-Lolly.
ďItís so weird. Oh, the feet are kind of like a calamari but the inside is like soft? But itís tasty. Itís weird but tasty,Ē said Ghaffari, after chewing off the little legs of a mini octopus. It was quite a sight.
Up next, the Octo-Leg.
ďItís really chewy. Itís just chewy. I donít have anything else to add,Ē said Ghaffari.
ďI like this one, actually.Ē
Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary
Tokyo Street Dog at Street Dogs & Smash Burgers
Seeking out a deep-fried hotdog was a bit of a break after downing camel pizza and Octo-Lollies. Both Ghaffari and I were ready for something a little on the normal side, for lack of better words.
The Tokyo Street Dog is a tempura-fried hotdog with caramelized onions, edible seaweed, Japanese mayo and teriyaki. Itís a bit of an unlikely combination but surprisingly tasty.
Let me start by saying this hotdog is super big. Thereís a hotdog and then thereís a HOTDOG.
I didnít know how to bite into it without sauce covering my face, but hey you do what you have to do.
And surprisingly, seaweed tastes pretty good on a hotdog.
I guess a lot of Stampede goers feel the same, as staff said itís the most popular hotdog on the menu.
While it might be different than what youíd see in Tokyo, itís definitely Stampede-approved.
Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary
Funnel Cake Pizza at Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cake
Compared to the others, this midway option is tame but itís also a little quirky.
Itís a heavenly match between sweet and savoury where a deep-fried funnel cake is topped with pizza sauce, shredded cheese and pepperoni before being blow-torched to gooey perfection.
ďI think itís a really great product for Stampede, because people love crazy stuff,Ē said employee Christine Eschner, who added that sales started off slow but the pizza funnel cake was starting to become a hot ticket at the food truck.
Stampede-goer Leesha Kanbour took a bite from the crispy item once Eschner finished making it and said, ďItís really good Ö like whatís better than (pizza) crust? Deep-fried pizza crust.Ē
She highly recommends visitors take a bite for themselves.