NEW YORK (Reuters) - Baseball fans have long feasted on peanuts and hot dogs when enjoying America's "national pastime." But the new Yankee Stadium is adding tofu, calamari, edamame and taralli to the menu.
A distinctly international flavor representing New York's ethnic melting pot runs through the 100-odd culinary items that will be for sale on Thursday when the New York Yankees play their first regular season game at their new home.
The $1.5 billion stadium has won praise for retaining the original look of the historic 86-year-old ballpark it replaces, including the old Yankee Stadium's famous facade.
But gone are the days when baseball fare was limited to hot dogs, along with the peanuts and Cracker Jack caramel-coated popcorn snack celebrated in the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
Baseball fans were surveyed to determine the menus, said Mike Phillips, senior vice president of Legends Hospitality Management, the company overseeing stadium fare.
Speaking on Wednesday at a media preview of the food concessions, Phillips said the gastronomic array reflected the city's diverse ethnic tastes and should please many foreign spectators, such as the Japanese fans who cheer for Yankees' player Hideki Matsui.
"We have the sushi, we have the Asian noodle concept, we have the Cuban sandwich," said Phillips. "I think we have everything covered."
"It was all about satisfying the fans," he said. "We asked them what they wanted."
Apparently they wanted sashimi, shrimp tempura, antipasto and pan-fried noodles, along with the Italian snack food taralli and Asian soybean dish edamame. For dessert, fans can sample the Italian pastry zeppole.
Also available is popular American fare like cheeseburgers, barbecue and steak sandwiches.
But fear not for the old-fashioned hot dog. More than 60 percent of spectators buy hot dogs, officials said.
"If you offer variety, people won't stop eating hot dogs. They'll eat a hot dog and something else," said Marty Greenspun, Legends president.
A typical baseball season will see enough hot dogs sold to stretch some 300 miles, Legends officials said.
Not all nationalities are represented. Missing, for example, is any whiff of French food.
"We're working on that," said one Legends official.
"We have French fries," another offered.
Editing by Michelle Nichols and Peter Cooney