What do music, beer, tents, portable toilets, large fields and junk food have in common? Festivals!
Each year, I suddenly forget the fact that I detest camping with a passion and get tickets for at least one of the European rock festivals. Peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll, right? Well no, leave out peace and love, 21st century festies are all about junk food, beer and rock ‘n’ roll. Three guesses what’s on todays’ blog menu?
Last weekend, we were at the Pinkpop festival in the south of The Netherlands. As festival food can be just as entertaining as the bands on display, we went on a grand tour of festival food stands to taste to give you an idea of what you’ve missed (or perhaps not)…
Saturday, 12 PM:
Arrive at the festival. Tent’s up, looking for lunch. Check food stalls on the way…hamburger type bun with stuff that staff would like to sell as gyros gets picked. Was lukewarm, tasted like anything but gyros, but no instant diarrhea. Bonus.
After much walking between car and tent, time to get ready for the main event. Fuel: German bratwurst. What a shame, this one lacked spices. Guess the guy of the stall figured that if 2/3 of his weekend clientele would be drunk anyway.
In need of refueling after the hilarious performance of the all star punk rock (cover)band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Watch it here, from 10″50 – if you like the genre, that is 😉.
Decide to head left of the main stage for dinner. Hamburgers, chips, shoarma, spring rolls…fresh oysters? In the 10+ years I’ve been visiting festivals, I’ve never come across something like a festival oyster bar. Which also made me think – this cannot be right, surely this is to guarantee having to do things you don’t want to do in a portable toilet? Skipped and had a selection of canteen quality pasta and vegetables. Cost 12 euros, but probably the healthiest meal I’ve ever had at an event.
We don’t drink an awful lot like some of the (not necessarily younger) festival crowd. However, being outside all day and having the odd beverage makes you hungry, so we decided to tuck into a typical Dutch snack – poffertjes (pov-er-chus). Best described as mini pancakes with a soft center, they’re enjoyed with loads of powdered sugar and butter. That’s because otherwise there’s no taste to it whatsoever. Finished our portion just on time for Bruce Springsteen.
Back in tent, once again craving for snacks. Took a mini snack salami, then sleep.
Sunday, 10:00 AM:
Wake up to find someone left some ladies’ underwear next to our tent. OK. Time to eat…wow, there’s so much grease on offer at the campsite stalls that it’s hard to choose. The only healthy options are yoghurt bowls and fruit juice, both costing around 6 euros a go. Now we’re not prepared to pay high class prices for low quality versions of fruit breakfasts, so we had some dodgy looking savoury pancakes – filled with bacon and enough cheese to hide the actual pancake flavour.
Old ska heroes Madness are up later in the afternoon, this means we need a hearty lunch: braadworst. The Dutch version of bratwurst, served in a bun with onion, mayonaise and ketchup. Yes, sausage again. Pinkpop seems to have sausage vendors scattered around all over the place. Not that I mind, and as an added bonus, this was the first snack that exceeded our expectations. Bravo!
Wandering around the festival grounds we find many empty plates of everything from pizza slices to fried chicken. However, we’re feeling exotic and opt for a fusion ‘Indian stir fry’ with Turkish bread and enough garlic sauce to ensure a completely non-Indian taste. What it did taste like? Pre-seasoned frozen vegetables mixed with chicken and bamboo shoots. With sauce. For 8 euros. If this is the level required for serving food at events, I will stock up and start my own food cart next year.
Not only was this meal dissappointing in taste, it was also a remarkably small amount we got served. Need some more food. We agreed to have some mini Vietnamese spring rolls. Spring rolls are so popular in The Netherlands one may almost call it a Dutch snack. We were pleasantly surprised that it was actually quite nice – bite sized, nice slightly tangy sauce, no need to squeeze out frying oil before consuming. Amazing, a second OK snack on one day! After the bands, went on to celecrate with friends at the campsite after party.
Monday, 10:00 AM:
Avoid pancakes. Spotted fried eggs on bread with bacon and cheese, had this. Good enough to give us energy until we get our first drinks of the day.
We couldn’t find any short queues for getting food/drink tickets, so needed something cheap for lunch. We hadn’t had any french fries yet this weekend, so here goes! Splash on a truckload of mayo, sit down on the grass to enjoy whilst listening to a Belgian singer called Novastar and watch people voluntarily getting themselves sunburnt.
It’s really a wonderful sunny day today, and on sunny days we all need to have ice creams. We took ours to the crowd to enjoy during the set of a Canadian punk band. Felt quite rebellious standing there innocently eating up the cone.
Have overpriced but slightly healthy dinner again at the oyster bar. Same selection of veggies, meat and some lasagna. However, clouds break seconds after I took the picture, and I can tell you that it takes a lot better food to be able to hold its taste when coming in contact with rain.
Last act of the festival on stage, but stomach not satisfied. With one food ticket left, I treated myself to the Dutchiest of all snacks, the kroket. This gooey meat snack with breaded crust is a favourite amongst the Dutch and many tourists, and always works as a quick comfort fix. As I finish my kroket, the festival comes to an end. Time to pack up and go back to proper food world!
To leave you with a little bit of that festival feeling, here’s a clip of the Madness performance: