Think about the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” It isn’t about the game of baseball at all, other than the part about being out on three strikes. It is more an ode to the experience of going to the game, of the crowds, of rooting for the home team. And especially about the food, about the peanuts and the Cracker Jack.
But that song was written 105 years ago. Nowadays, if you go to a ballpark such as, oh, for instance, Fifth Third Field, you are likely to eat a bacon cheese dog or an apple pie funnel cake or balls of fried chocolate chip cookie dough.
You read that right. They take chocolate chip cookie dough, put a coating on it, and deep fat fry it. When you bite into it, the middle part is melted and gooey and chocolatey. That is either the most awesome creation ever, or the first clear indication of the end of civilization as we know it. Or both.
When the Toledo Mud Hens open their season at home on April 11, the fans will have a wide variety of edible new options at the park. Some of the brave new foods will even be relatively healthy, or at least healthyish, such as the turkey club wrap (at the Suds & Wieners concession stand) or a summer salad (at the BirdCage stand on the Club Level). A caprese salad — mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil with a balsamic vinegar dressing — will be available at the vaguely Italian-themed Mudzarella stand.
But most of the new items (and many of the old items) will be heaping plates of calories, with calories on top. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. This is a ballpark, after all, and no one ever sang “Buy me some tofu and chia seeds.”
So along with the deep-fried chocolate chip cookie dough — again, that’s deep-fried chocolate chip cookie dough — they will offer an assortment of funnel cakes: with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, sprinkles, nuts, and a cherry on top; with cinnamon apples and whipped cream; with Oreo cookies and whipped cream; and with strawberries and whipped cream.
For those who like to watch the American pastime with an international flair, the stadium now offers chicken quesadillas, beer brats simmered in beer (and served on a roll with sautéed onions; it’s called a Sudsie Wiener), quasi-Italian fried cheese sticks with marinara sauce, and Asian-seeming sweet chili chicken chunks.
Anyone who wants to give the appearance of eating healthfully without actually doing so can try the fried green beans with wasabi ranch sauce or fried portobello mushrooms with wasabi ranch sauce, or even a reuben panini.
And for dessert? Ice cream, of course. The stadium is now offering what it calls a Frozhen Flurry, which is kind of like a Dairy Queen Blizzard except…um…OK, it is exactly like a Dairy Queen Blizzard. And Toft’s ice cream is also bringing two new flavors, peanut butter pretzel and Mud Hens sea salt slam, which is vanilla ice cream with a salty caramel swirl and chocolate-covered peanuts.
I don’t care if I never get back.
There is less chili in the world than there was a week ago.
A week ago, Mobile Meals held its 21st annual Great chili Cook-Off at the Stranahan Great Hall. Nineteen teams cooked up oceans of the stuff and ladled it out to hundreds of hungry folks who, we are betting, became significantly less hungry as the afternoon went on. Nineteen different types of chili will do that to you.
The teams competed against each other for fun and glory — some teams took the glory part more seriously than others — and all competed with the intention of raising money for Mobile Meals of Toledo, which brings food to people who cannot leave their homes for reasons of age, health or physical ability.
Money was raised, among other methods, by having attendees drop a donation into a pot for each of their favorite chili teams. The teams with the most money won the People’s Choice Awards. Meanwhile, a crew of highly trained chili eaters served as judges, carefully tasting and ranking each batch. Then they put their pepper-and-cumin -scented heads together and came up with their own set of winners, who received the highly coveted Judges’ Awards.
The teams were divided into four categories — restaurant, media, corporate, and amateur — and competed only against the others in their category. That means there is plenty of glory to go around.
The judges bestowed their awards for best chili on Chef Marcel Catering (restaurant category), Toledo City Paper (media), Swanton Health Care (corporate), and SeaGate Food Bank (amateur).
The People’s Choice Awards went to Toledo Zoo Catering (restaurant), WRQN-93.5 FM (media), H & R Block (corporate), and The Potlickers (amateur).
And the best-decorated booth? Once again, that went to H & R Block, for its green balloon-festooned booth.
Recipe for glory
Has it been your dream to take your favorite recipe — or maybe an old family recipe handed down for generations on a smudged and stained index card — bottle it, sell it to grocery stores, and find eternal fame and fortune?
It can happen. All you have to do is win a contest.
Specifically, you just have to win the 6th Annual Food Product Development Contest, sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology. The three local food entrepreneurs with the best recipes and the clearest vision for the future will receive all the help they need to get their product on supermarket shelves in one year.
The rest, of course, the part about fame and fortune, is up to you.
The winners, who can be amateurs or professionals, will be given guidance, information, and advice from professionals on everything from labeling and packaging to following government procedures for health and safety.
Even more important, the winners will have free access to a commercially licensed kitchen (it’s near Bowling Green) and other technological assistance for one year.
All applications must be submitted by May 20 (don’t get greedy: only one application per participant, please). For more information, rules, regulations, and application forms, visit ciftinnovation.org, or call 419-535-6000, ext. 117.
Food to you
We would be remiss if we did not mention the latest venture from chef Jules Wilkins (who herself won a CIFT Award two years ago for her dressings, which she now bottles and sells).
Following the example of the mountain and Mohammed, Ms. Wilkins’ Bella Amici Catering is now delivering professionally made, fresh meals directly to your home or business. Each week, clients can pick and choose whichever items they want from a constantly changing menu. The price varies with each item, but last week’s menu included shrimp scampi for $13, lentil cakes for $9, and lobster mac and cheese for $13.
For more information, visit BellaAmiciCatering.com.
Items for Morsels may be submitted up to two weeks before an event to firstname.lastname@example.org.