Festival food used to be questionable, at best. Smelly, grubby food trucks selling your bog standard burgers, chips and, if you’re lucky, a bacon roll in the mornings – more often than not, food poisoning was just a chance you’d have to take if you wanted to eat. Salmonella and chips, as Del Boy would say.
It was all about convenience; if it soaked up the beer, it did the job. But now, that’s all changed. Festival food is all part of the experience – everything has got to look the part, picture perfect and ready for online exposure. You can’t upload greasy food in a floppy polystyrene carton to the ‘gram. It’s this social media demand, I think, that has led to the new crazy-good quality of festival food.
For a start, the sheer variety has come on leaps and bounds. Gone are the days of chips, chips and more chips – at a decent sized festival, you can chow down on just about anything. From ostrich burgers to vegan buddha bowls, oven-baked mac ‘n’ cheese to Mexican burritos, we really are spoilt for choice.
Even your most basic options have upped their game and evolved from their classic foodie forefathers. A quarter pounder becomes a double beefburger dipped in gooey cheese sauce and topped with onion rings. Hot dogs become gourmet German sausages smothered with anything from fried onions to chilli con carne. A plain ol’ portion of chips becomes a plate of crispy sweet potato fries. We’re not in Kansas anymore, folks.
The downside of this is, of course, the price. The more pretentious – sorry, I mean delicious -, the more expensive. We all know these things are overpriced, we know we’ll pay a fiver for a warm pint and have sadly made our peace with that. But when it starts creeping up to near a tenner every meal, that’s a serious chunk of your hard-earned cash. We’ll be at Reading Festival in a couple of weeks for four days, so we’re spending at least £40 a day on food (!!!) with just one meal a day, and I’m not a ‘one meal a day’ kinda gal. So it better be bloody good!
Price tag aside, I think it’s awesome that festivals have integrated food to become such an integral part of the event. We want a whole experience from a festival, especially when we’re forking out so much for weekend tickets. It’s not just about watching a few bands anymore, it’s about everything in between – and these days, you can’t have a bangin’ festival without some bangin’ food.