In the song Coma Girl, Glastonbury bonfire icon Joe Strummer’s hymn to the festival he loved, Strummer talks about how “some fast food fanatic was burning down a burger van”. For many people the image of the burger van, serving up a slab of indeterminate meat that at best tastes like wet cardboard and serves little purpose but fuel, is what comes to mind when thinking of food at festivals. But, while you can certainly spend all your time hanging around the Pyramid Stage only leaving for a brief trip to the burger van, there is actually a huge variety of interesting food to be enjoyed at this, and many other, festivals. As I’m off to Glastonbury this week I thought I’d offer some recommendations, not of bands to see but of food to taste.
Food for sale at Glastonbury exists in abundance and great variety so there really is little point in bringing in any huge supplies of food or cooking equipment, it’ll just weigh you down and it’s a long walk from the car park or bus drop off point. Food stalls range from a small shed with a counter to decent size tents with plenty of space for tables and chairs and a reasonable approximation of a normal sit down meal. Given the pretty strong possibility of a sudden downpour leaving you trekking through the mud at some point during the week, these food tents can offer a much needed respite from the weather, but tend to fill up pretty fast as soon as the heavens open.
Generally it’s reasonable to be slightly wary of meat cooked quickly for mass consumption in a tent and a lot of people prefer just to go with the veggie option for the whole week. Having said that, missing out on stalls with such joyously punning names as “Pie Minister” or “Sausage Fest” would seem a shame and, outside of the dodgy burger vans, there’s also a fair bit of quality local meats on offer. The best seafood is also the best food option to be found right by the Pyramid Stage with the “Catch and Grill” offering boxes of delicious battered squid rings. The nearby Pizza to the People, a chain familiar to festival goers all over the country, also offers a fairly decent pizza option on the way into the Pyramid area.
For the best food that Glastonbury has to offer, however, you unsurprisingly have to head a little away from the crowds and the main performance areas. The very best food stalls tend to be found in the area leading from the Greenpeace Field to the Field of Avalon (you can see some of this in the picture at the top of the screen). Eschewing the punning name game of the more centrally located food businesses, these stalls tend more towards twee rhymes like “Poco Morocco” or “Manic Organic” and serve a mishmash of mostly vegetarian rice and couscous type foods from various world cultures.
It’s in this foody avenue that the sparkling jewel in the crown of Glastonbury dining possibilities resides. Lacking a punning or rhyming name, this stall is obvious by its fluttering blue and purple banners above a sign that simply reads “pizza”, not that an opportunity for punnage is entirely missed with the sign above the pizza order options evoking the famous Australian news anchors ill judged attempts at joking with the Dalai Lama. This place is so loved by my friends and family that we’re likely to be found in there repeatedly during the course of the Glastonbury week. In fact, in 2010, the year it didn’t rain at all, I kept running into people I knew in there, sheltering from the heat of the sun of all things.
I’ve also seen the same stall at other festivals, such as Dorset’s End of the Road and it’s always welcome. Not only does it provide a large tent with rugs and benches to rest on while you eat, strong dark coffee in a fairly random assortment of real coffee cups and delicious sweet freshly squeezed lemonade, but the pizza is as enjoyable as many that you’d get in the real, bricks and mortar world outside. With a proper pizza oven brought along to the festival, they’re able to give you real, proper pizzas, the star offer being one topped with ham and smothered in rocket. If you see one thing at Glastonbury 2013, make it the pizza. (Also Vampire Weekend on Sunday afternoon).