Fall Festival food is prepared during the festivals that are celebrated in the fall or autumn season. In North America, Autumnfest and West Side Nut Club Fall Festival are celebrated in the fall season. In China, the Mid Autumn Festival is the major cultural event that is celebrated during the season. The fall festival food mainly comprises snacks and desserts that are enjoyed in the carnivals. A variety of cakes, sweet pies, pastries and candies constitute the traditional fare of the North American fall festivals.
Foods Served in Fall Festivals
- Autumnfest food- The menu for this Woonsocket festival consists of different kinds of traditional and fun foods. The festival is celebrated at World War II Veteran’s Memorial State Park, since 1979, on Columbus Day Weekend (celebrated on the 2nd Monday of October, every year). The park features a food court which serves a wide variety of both North American and international foods. French, Canadian and Oriental foods are highlighted features of the pavilion. White or red clam chowder, clam cake, sweet or stuffed baked potatoes, pizzas, hot dogs, chips, Italian sausages, peppers and onions, lobster stew, American Chop suey, falafel sandwiches, shish kabobs, Chicken Teriyaki, Chow Mein, Vegetable Lo-Mein, deep-fried oreo and baklava are some of the foods that can be enjoyed at the food. The Beer Garden is a major attraction.
- West Side Nut Club Fall Festival Food – Food is known to be the major attraction of this festival which is being held by the West Side Nut Club of Evansville, since 1924. Common foods like corn fritters or corn dogs, and slightly uncommon foods like chocolate-coated grasshoppers, alligator stew and beef brain sandwiches are the highlighted eatables of the celebrations.
- Mid-Autumn Festival- Also known as Zhongqiu or Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, this is a harvest festival celebrated in China and Vietnam in the months of September or early October.
Mooncake- It is the traditional dish of this festival, which was first celebrated 3000 years ago, during the Zhou period. Chang’e the Chinese Goddess of Immortality is offered the moon-cake during the festival. The moon cake is a traditional Chinese sweet cake of about 10 cms. in diameter consisting of a filling of lotus seed paste. Often the yolk of salted duck egg, which symbolizes a moon, is used as a filling in this baked cake. Other varieties of fillings for the mooncake include sweet bean paste made from red beans, azuki beans, mung beans or black beans; 5 kernel paste made from 5 varieties of seeds and nuts, namely, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds and sesame seeds; and jujube paste. Modern fillings include taro paste, pineapple, chocolate, coffee, cream cheese, chicken floss, tiramisu, ice cream, durian, and green tea, among others. The crusts are also varied; some of the cakes are made with chewy crust, while others have a flaky crust or a soft crust. Marked regional variations are observed in the mooncake recipe across the Chinese sub-cuisines. Traditionally, the moon cake is served with Chinese tea to friends and family, by the host, during the festival.
American Traditional Fall Festival Foods
Certain foods are an integral part of the fall festival menus, as they have been traditionally prepared and enjoyed for years. A few of such dishes are described below:
- Candy Apples- Fall festival menus across America are considered incomplete without the candy apple. Also known as toffee apple, the candy apple is apple coated with a hard sugar coating. It is made by dipping an apple in sugar syrup of the hard-crack consistency. The sugar syrup is flavored with cinnamon and colored with red food coloring. The apples are made with a variety of toppings. A stick is inserted into the candied apple to hold it while eating. Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, McIntosh, Jonathan, and Lady are some of the varieties of apples that are suited for making this festive dessert. Chocolate coating, caramels, mini-chocolate chips and sprinkles are some of the variations of the candy coatings used on the toffee apples. Candied apples have become a popular treat of the fall season because this is the time of the year when they are harvested.
- Funnel Cake- Also spelt as funnelcake, this is a deep-fried cake prepared by frying batter poured in hot oil. The batter is kept in a pitcher having a funnel, through which it is released into the oil in convoluted patters. The cake is about 9 cm in diameter and has air gaps in its body. It is topped with sugar powder, jam, cinnamon, Nutella, fruits, and a variety of other toppings of choice. The Austrian Strauben, the Slovenian flancati, the Finnish tippaleipä, the Indian Jalebi and the Iranian Zulbia are some of the variants of this North American carnival cake.
- Fried Candy Bar- This fall festival food is very popular. It is a standard candy bar which is coated with batter and deep-fried in hot cooking oil till golden brown and crispy. The interior of the bar, however, remains soft and gooey. Homemade or commercially available candy bars can be used for the purpose. The deep-fried sweet bars are dusted with powdered sugar. Candy bars are generally enjoyed warm with a dessert sauce of choice; namely, raspberry sauce, caramel sauce or warm fudge sauce being the popular choices. These dessert/snack bars also taste good when partnered with whipped cream.
- Deep Fried Pickle- It is prepared by frying batter-coated dill pickle in hot vegetable oil and is served as an appetizer with ranch sauce or creamy sauce. This fall festival food is also enjoyed as an accompaniment to beer.
- Pies- A variety of pies are festive favorites of many. Examples are discussed below:
Apple Pie- It is a double-crusted sweet pie baked with apple filling. Cooking apples, such as Granny Smith or Bramley, are used for the purpose. The top crust of the pie may have a lattice structure. Though basically European, the Apple pie had become a symbol of prosperity and an item of national pride for the Americans.
Pumpkin Pie- This is a traditional dessert of the fall season. It is a single-crusted baked pie without a top crust. It consists of a filling of pumpkin custard made from pureed pulp of pie pumpkin flavored with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Top-crusted pumpkin pies are also made, though rarely.
Sweet Potato Pie- This is a traditional American holiday food. Similar to the pumpkin pie, it is a single-crusted sweet pie consisting of a spiced sweet potato filling. The filling also includes milk, eggs and sugar as the other ingredients. Nutmeg is the spice of choice for this sweet pie. Vanilla and banana flavorings are also used, and the consistency of the filling varies from thick to thin depending upon the recipe.