It was at Glastonbury where I discovered that frozen yogurt or ice cream is the best way to get liquid and sugar into a 4 year old who is hot and over tired - plus they'll sleep when their tummy is full of milky goodness (long overdue thank you for that Yeo Valley). It may also have been at Glastonbury I discovered this trick also works someone who is incredibly hung over....
Festival food has changed so much over the past 30 years that it has become unrecognisable from the greasy soggy chips I was eternally grateful for at Glastonbury in the 90's. Vegetarians have choice, and meat-eaters are not left torn between the eternal Hot Dog or Burger? Widespread use of diesel generators and portable fridges and freezers has turned it around completely. Never again is there any excuse to accept a slightly mouldy sandwich, however many lemonades I drink beforehand...
Here are 5 Festival Foods you really should try, and get the kids to try them too!
1. Paella, Jambalaya and other large scale rice dishes
Gone are the days you had to fly somewhere to find huge pans simmering and sizzling full of rice and vegetables, and meats like chicken, Chorizo and other sausage. Huge burners remove the need for an actual wood-fuelled fire and it's commonplace now at festivals to find these 'meal in a pan' stands, and it can set you up for the day. A good tea helps keep you going long into the evening and shouldn't be under-estimated.
All small tired children will eat vegetable chow mein. It's like a secret trick. Pots of noodles are really commonplace at festivals now and a perfect alternative to chips, but without the fat. They fill your belly, give you energy and warmth, they're cheap, super-easy to eat and are very often amazingly tasty with loads of fresh vegetables.
3. Gourmet Burgers
Okay, I left burgers in, but this isn't the scary pre-frozen barely-beef patty of the 80's (slopped in 3 tablespoons of sugar and a smidgen of tomato which calls itself 'ketchup'). This is the home-made never-frozen 97% Scottish Beef in a granary bun with red onion, fresh greenery and chilli chutney. It can also be a genuine vegetarian burger which contains protein, and isn't made from diced vegetables squished into a dollop of mashed potato. Nice burgers. Proper clean food.
These were one of the first regularly available vegetarian festival foods, so I've had my share. They were on several occasions the only protein I ate all weekend. Falafel can be hit and miss depending on the chef, but nice crispy falafel in a pitta with salad has long time been a favourite of my older vegetarian children.
You have to have at least one dessert, right? Fairly new to UK festivals, but everywhere now, these Spanish snacks are ridiculously simple yet delicious. Basically a long star-shaped stick of deep fried doughnut batter dipped in sugar and chocolate, what is not to like?! We tried making them and discovered the secret is definitely in the shape, but our home-made Churros still tasted delicious.
If none of those float your boat then giant barbequed sweetcorn, pancakes, nachos or curries are all commonplace now, and if you end up in North Manchester at Ramsbottom Festival then you are very likely to find our local delicacies, black pudding and black mushy peas! For the less daring, hot dogs and cheese toasties are also available....
Everything tastes better when you are really hungry, or cold, or shattered, but festival food has really made use of advances in portable power units to turn itself from something you had to put up with, into something you can look forward to and get excited about.
This is a post I was asked to write and I was reimbursed for the time taken to do so.