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Soccer fans to get global hodgepodge

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my mouth is salivating..........


Soccer is poised to become our city's tastiest sport.

See, when BMO Field opens in a couple of weeks at Exhibition Place, the concession stands will tempt Toronto FC fans with a hodgepodge of eats.

Adventurers will be spoiled for choice with Portuguese cornbread sandwiches, chip butties, Scotch eggs, beef patties, chicken rotis and aranci.

Traditionalists will gravitate to beer-battered haddock, kosher hot dogs, corned beef on rye and roast beef on a bun.

Purists will gnaw on watermelon and roasted corn on the cob.

Sugar fiends will go straight for the strawberry shortcake served in waffle cones.

Some of this stuff will become popular, maybe even legendary. Some will bomb. But Brad Long, executive chef for Air Canada Centre and the culinary brain behind the stadium offerings, can't wait to watch it all unfold.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing which ones make it and which won't – it'll be a good anthropological study," he said yesterday during a taste test of 15 concession creations.

Long's kitchen team was enlisted to ensure BMO Field's food reflects both the diversity of Toronto and the global-mindedness of soccer and its fans.

"None of these things were invented by me, or by us," Long was quick to say of the dishes. "They're translations ... They're really meant to be hot dogs from around the world, if you can forgive that really stupid image."

He doesn't have a favourite. But he's particularly proud of the cornbread sandwich, which came to life when he asked what his pastry chef Wally Arruda's Portuguese parents would serve a crowd. The result is a warm Portuguese cornbread bun filled with roasted peppers and gooey St. John's cheese (a Portuguese cow's milk cheese).

British expats will get a kick out of the chip butty – a french fry sandwich on toasted, buttered white bread, modernized with roasted garlic aioli.

Aranci is fun. The traditional cheese-stuffed Italian rice ball finds risotto bound by parmesan and rolled in panko (Japanese bread crumbs). It's deep-fried until set, then finished in the oven so it's not greasy.

Every dish has a back story. Some will be prepared by Long's crew. Some (like the corn and Jamaican patties) will be contracted out. Long hopes to use as much Ontario produce as possible. Prices have not been finalized.

And yes, much of the stadium food promises to be messy to eat.

"Life's not a tidy thing," Long shrugged. "At least mine isn't."

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