In the past, eating at music festivals could be a bit of an assault course, dodging disconcertingly pink bangers here and pallid chips there. However, now we seem to be comfortable with the idea of having more choice than just a shit burger or even shitter hot dog when at an outdoor event, music festivals and street food suddenly appear to be the perfect bedfellows.
While many larger festivals will still churn out the usual crepes that we've become accustomed to, new smaller festivals are building quality food and drink right into their hearts. And I'm not talking about events like Jamie Oliver's Big Feastival where acts like Bjorn Again and Jamie Cullum try their best to put you off your sliders.
Beacons Festival in Skipton, Yorkshire seems to have hit the right balance of music and food, where bands such as the Fall, Sleaford Mods and British Sea Power will be joined by the best cuisine from France, India, the Caribbean and beyond. Organiser Ash Kollakowski is as proud of the food on offer at the festival as he is the music:
"Beacons probably has the best food at any festival - no joke, it's amazing. The food is so good, and restaurant level too, but well priced. From Fu-Shnickens pork buns to Mam's Jerk Station from London, it's all there. We also have amazing coffee from Laynes, who use Square Mile beans, and a craft beer tent with beers from around the world. You could go for the food alone, never mind the amazing music."
This coming together of great music and even greater food at festivals comes as no surprise to Ben Davy, the brains behind the Dough Boys Neapolitan-style pizza operation, usually based in the Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen in Leeds: "For me the two things are a logical combination. Everyone who goes to festivals has to eat, and until recently the only food you could get was overpriced greasy burgers and soggy pies. Street food's recent rise in popularity has changed that, and in turn enhanced the whole festival experience. It's quick, convenient and the high standard of traders means the quality of the food isn't compromised."
If Davy is anything to go by, street food sellers aren't resting on their laurels but taking on the challenge of festival catering. When you move your operation from the city to a field, there are many things to take into consideration: "When we started doing festivals, we had to rethink how we do everything, from the sizes of the pizzas to the type of oven we use to adapting toppings to work for festival crowds. We had to think about things like signs - can drunk people read them? Is the festival an arty one or a party one? Will they care about the provenance of our mozzarella? Would smoked sea salt confuse or excite people? You have to put yourself into the mindset of a festival goer and really think about what it is they need and want. Finally you have to accept that no matter how many times you check your weather app, it won't ever correspond to what's about to happen in real life."
It seems then, with street food traders, festivals and punters alike taking their festival food so seriously these days, this happy union of quality food and music is here to stay.
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