Fine food, fiddles and festivals
August 14, 2007 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Top tips for making good food at music festivals

I'm a bit of a food snob and am about to spend a few days at The Green Man Festival. Was wondering if anyone had some top tips for cooking and/or any related equipment to take.

For reference, I've got a little pisspot gas burner, a frying pan and two saucepans, and anywhere between 2 and 4 people to cook for per night. Let's assume I've got to carry it all, and concentrate on the following criteria:

1) Food that makes a bit of a splash. (To cheer everyone up after what I assume will be a windlashed and rainy few days)
2) Food that won't kill us all after a couple of days unrefrigerated.
3) Anything that can easily be assembled after, say, 4 pints of hallucinogenic cider. (OK, maybe don't concentrate on this one so much.)

Anyone got anything to share?
posted by Jofus to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Let me just jump straight back in and say that my ultimate tip for festivals is to take salt and pepper in little contact lense solution bottles. It makes everything just that little bit more civilised.
posted by Jofus at 7:15 AM on August 14, 2007

On our annual grownups-only car-camping trip (that happens to be this weekend), one must-do is french toast. Very easy to put together (a lot easier than pancakes), great to share, plus it has that comfort-food vibe.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:38 AM on August 14, 2007

I've always thought a very nice and easy camping meal would be the Swad or TastyBite boil-in-bag Indian meals. They're already cooked and sealed, so you don't have to worry about refrigeration. They're delicious and much more flavorful than most camp food. And all you have to do is boil water and heat them and then they're ready to eat. (Since they're already cooked, in a pinch you could eat them unheated if it happens to be pissing rain.) Just bring along some good bread and you'll have a nice, unique meal. You could also bring some canned meat if you wanted to make it non-veggie.
posted by MsMolly at 7:56 AM on August 14, 2007

First and foremost, if you're single-handedly carrying food for 2-4 people for four days, well.. you must be a very good friend. You'll be much better off having people bring food, but MAKE A LIST AND GIVE IT TO THEM, or you'll end up with 15 cans of baked beans. If you're a food snob, planning meals shouldn't be too hard, but remember: if you can't use an ingredient in more than one meal, you're doing something wrong.

Generic shopping list:
onions, carrots, peppers, etc
basic spices like basil, oregano, five spice, chipotles and cilantro
tortillas, for the obligatory breakfast burritos.

Rice and pasta would be a very good idea to bring, but only if you can use it more than once.

Now for the iffier stuff:
You'll really want to do research on what I'm about to say, because you may find it unsafe. I've done it, but I can't suggest that you do without knowing exactly what you're getting into.

Bacon. Real bacon from a butcher you know. Uncut. Cut what you need, salt the rest or cut off a millimeter or two

Eggs. The closer you get to the farm, the safer you'll be. Also, crack the eggs into something and smell before you start to cook. if it stinks, it's no longer people food.

Other dried meats, like panchetta, prosciutto, etc. adding bits of stuff like this to random vegetables over rice makes for tasty foods.

Most importantly, use your nose. Food doesn't stink, former food does. That, and if the fire is too interesting, you shouldn't be cooking.
posted by onedarkride at 9:00 AM on August 14, 2007

Excellent stuff, Onedarkride. I'll be taking plenty of chorizo and frying that up in (hallucinogenic) cider. I've always tended towards the less hysterical end of the food safety spectrum.
posted by Jofus at 9:06 AM on August 14, 2007

Things that I'd go with—

Beans and tortillas. Pre-chop and seal in bags your burrito/taco fillings (depending on how you are with the frying pan).

Phad Thai. You can bring dry noodles, an egg or two (they'll be fine unrefrigerated for a day or two, especially if you buy them fresh), and some pre-made peanut sauce. Add some sprouts and some chilis (both small and light), and damn, it's pretty tasty.

I really like going with hearty bread, some fresh pesto, and some decent cheese and a tomato. It's dead simple, it's tasty...

I guess my overall advice would be what a food snob should already know— get simple, good ingredients and don't do too much to them.

Oh, and never underestimate the value of a jar of peanut butter in a pinch.
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on August 14, 2007

Well, one of my favourite things about festivals is the food stalls, so make sure you get a chance to try a bit of some of them.

Can you get hold of another burner? That will make things a lot easier, especially if you're cooking for 4. You don't have a lot of equipment there.

If the weather behaves like they are predicting it will, you want hearty fare - curry, chilli, pasta... A cheats meal for the first evening (or possibly second if you have a cool box) is to make a stew or curry or something similar beforehand and freeze it. It can defrost on the way up there, and all you need to do is heat it up and serve with crusty bread/rice/whatever.

It's not snob food, but if you can light a fire, jacket potatoes wrapped in foil cooked in the embers are the best way to eat potatoes. If you can cook a tin or two of beans on the fire as well they will acquire a genuine barbecue flavour. Add cheese and yum.

The best camp food I've had has usually been because of the extras - so nice bread and the oil and balsamic vinegar thing alongside the pasta, or guacamole and good salsa with mexican. It's the extra touches that lift it above bog standard and make it special.

Take homebaked cakes. Good for munchies and breakfast and making friends with the people in the tent next door.

And take decent coffee, if you drink coffee.
posted by Helga-woo at 2:37 PM on August 14, 2007

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