Fried Red Velvet Cake and Pterodactyl Wings: Over-the-Top Eating at the Rodeo
"That looks like a pterodactyl wing," laughed Harry Miller, a committeeman on the Commercial Exhibits Committee, as he regarded a giant slab of unidentifiable meat that was making its way to a judging table. Miller emcees the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo's Gold Buckle Foodie Awards competition each year, and he's very nearly seen it all in the four years of the annual food contest.
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt Hungry? How about a four-pound burger and a megaphone of curly fries?
Deep-fried Moon Pies, meat sundaes, chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick...and this year, a slew of entries each more over-the-top than the last. The pterodactyl wing in question was a slab of reconstructed beef, pieces plastered on top of each other and held together with barbecue sauce on a giant bone: meat on a stick in its most primal -- yet unappealing -- sense.
It did not go over well with the judges, me among them. But neither had many of the entries that day. The fried cherry Kool-Aid was perhaps the worst, a ball of cake dough soaked in what tasted like straight cherry-flavored syrup and then fried to a greasy, powdered sugar-topped mess.
"Satan testicle?" responded Dallas Observer web editor Nick Rallo when I posted a photo of it to Twitter. Close enough.
Deep-fried devil nuts, far right.
Of a giant piece of pizza that was topped with too many meats to count, judge Steve Johnson of The Walton & Johnson Show joked: "This features all the animals that are on display at the Rodeo."
On the other hand, two of the entries at this year's Gold Buckle Foodie Awards -- which hands out awards to the Rodeo's various midway and fair food booths -- received perfect scores from the dozens of judges, most of whom are media personalities from around the city.