Drumroll, please ...
The wait for State Fair fans is over. The official list of new foods, released Tuesday, offers many surprises for hungry fairgoers. More than 30 new items will tempt and tease the crowds who meander from Cosgrove to Canfield Streets Aug. 23 through Sept. 3.
Will they fill their bellies with lamb testicles, camel sliders, pork shanks and poutine (French fries with gravy and white Cheddar cheese curds)? New vendors are banking on it. Of course, they always are.
This year's list takes fair food in a new direction with fewer new on-a-stick options and several regional and ethnic specialties. Those include eggplant fries, beef tongue tacos, Belgian waffles, sushi, scones with sausage gravy and Minnesota flavors from walleye rolls to bison sausage. The big talkers this year? Those camel sliders and lamb fries (a traditional Middle Eastern dish of lamb testicles).
State Fair officials choose new foods based on vendor proposals. "The ethnic and regional favorites -- the lamb fries and eggplant fries -- are a manifestation of the Taste of Midtown Global Market that's in the International Bazaar this year," said Brienna Schuette, spokeswoman for the State Fair. Smaller operators from Midtown Global Market will showcase their specialties over four days rather than the full run of the fair. The changing roster of foods will benefit those who come to the fair more than once, said Schuette.
This year's list offers some options for the health-conscious: two gluten-free choices (a Chicago-style hot dog and risotto poppers), green salads and hibiscus tea. Then there are the decadent ones: battered mashed sweet potatoes on a stick with whipped cream, chocolate peanut butter cup fudge puppies, ice cream bars and red velvet funnel cakes.
"It's the luck of the draw on what vendors come up with in their own creative minds and what they present to us," said Schuette. "This year we got really lucky with a very diverse list."
Bacon made this year's list, too. In ice cream. Still waiting for the next trend: kale chips.
For a complete list of the new foods and where they will be found, go to www.mnstatefair.org.
Lee Dean • 612-673-1749 • @stribtaste