In a country obsessed with celebrity chefs and the next Cronut sensation, there’s a food festival for every taste. But the abundance of culinary-themed events means even the oddest ingredients and dishes get a shot at the spotlight. Whether you’re looking to taste chocolate-dipped crickets or dive into a garlic-infused ice cream cone, it’s not hard to find what you’re craving, says Jimmy Carbone, a New York-based restaurateur who’s organized events focused on everything from hot sauces to esoteric meats. “No one wants a bake-sale type of vibe,” Carbone explains. “A food festival is where you go to experience the unexpected.”
Almost everything here is made with Marshmallow Fluff, from sandwiches to candy, at the Fluff Festival in Boston’s Union Square. An entire Fluff festival shouldn’t come as a surprise; some in the state attempted to push through legislation to make the Fluffernutter the official state sandwich of Massachusetts. Here, you can pay tribute to whoopie pies, ice cream, doughnuts, and pizzas utilizing this sugar-laced favorite.
September 24, 2016
Forget about kissing frogs to find Prince Charming. In what some consider the frog leg capital of the world, more than 7,000 pounds of the green-hued amphibians are consumed during the Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival in Florida. Fried, served on a stick, or paired with grits, variations on the dish have been served at this annual event for almost 25 years. For the more adventurous, alligator tails are also on the menu.
January 19-22, 2017
America’s most famous canned meat, SPAM®, is considered an acquired taste. For one day each April, the Waikiki SPAM® Jam in Honolulu celebrates Hawaii’s most beloved product. Between concerts and eating contests, the street festival boasts a menu of everything from SPAM cheesecake to nachos.
Ants, wasps, grasshoppers, roaches—oh my! Eating bugs is normal for much of the world’s population, since the critters are packed with protein. Austin’s Bug Eating Festival is a perfect way to learn about these treats. You can toss back a handful of crickets that have been flash fried or dipped in dark chocolate.
At this fest, fries, calamari, sausage sandwiches, ice cream, and more all feature this California city’s most notable ingredient: garlic. Once you’ve had enough, hop back on scenic Highway 101 and buy some breath mints for the drive back home.
By Bao Ong
Typography by Dave Homer