When I was writing my latest book, I ended up thinking about food a lot. This isn’t a new thing. Food usually plays a big part in my books, because, well, I like to cook and I like to eat. :-)
My heroine is a baker – specifically a cupcake baker, and she’s “roped” into making special cupcakes for a charity fundraiser at the Cadence Creek Rodeo. It did get me thinking about rodeo and fair food and what makes it so good. When I was growing up we had “The Exhibition” and it was an agricultural fair as well as stage shows and a midway. Harness racing instead of rodeo, but similar in that food vendors were everywhere. I was never one for candy apples or cotton candy, but I always loved one particular vendor who sold burgers and fries. The line ups were huge but worth it. Sometimes I’ll smell meat and hot grease somewhere and immediately think “that smells like Exhibition”. Whether or not the food is fantastic or not, there’s no denying that it’s tied into memory!
When I was in Calgary I hit the Stampede Grounds a few times and the offerings are slightly different but perhaps even more tasty. My two favourites were Beef on a Bun – succulent shaved roast beef piled on a crusty bun – and the ever popular mini-doughnuts that came fresh out of the grease and seemed to melt on your tongue. The last time I was in Calgary, I bought a bag of them at Calaway Park, an amusement park on the west side of town. Delicious.
Those things are all at the Cadence Creek Rodeo, too – but in THE LAST REAL COWBOY I added something else: a chili cook-off. In my latest (still waiting on a title), it’s rodeo season again and the chili contest is a fundraiser for the Butterfly House women’s shelter. My heroine is making cupcakes to go along with that event, and I figured they needed to be something with a little kick. Chocolate Chili cupcakes were the answer, with Cream Cheese Chili Buttercream. Yee haw!
Do you have a favourite “fair” food?