Cooking at a festival (whatever your diet)
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One of the nicest things about the English summertime is our festivals; we have such a variety that there is something to suit everyone’s taste. This summer I’ve already been to Glastonbury in Somerset and Green Man in Wales, and Jamie’s Big Feastival will round of the season nicely. I love the community of a festival – everyone is there to have a lovely time, which makes for a great atmosphere. From watching an amazing live band or dancing in a little random tent, to sitting around your camp with your friends and a cup of tea, there are so many wonderful experiences to be had.
But one of the drawbacks of a festival is the cost. It’s easy to spend a huge amount of money on not very much at all because food and drinks are expensive but essential. This is especially problematic if you have a special dietary requirement – the options for a vegan or coeliac are very limited. Over the years, through a lot of trial and error, I’ve learnt how to feed myself (and usually all my mates) at a festival for very little money and effort. First, get yourself a couple of gas camping stoves – they cost about £12 and two gas canisters will probably last you all weekend.
Start your day right…
I would always say the most important meal of the day is breakfast; and that’s especially true at a festival. You need something nourishing, filling and wholesome to replenish you from the night before and set you up for the day ahead. Eggs are fantastic for this, and fried, boiled or scrambled are all very easy to accomplish on a camping stove. I like to serve mine in a seeded wrap (which you can warm momentarily on the flame of the stove) stuffed with some avocado, spinach and sautéed mushrooms, with maybe a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and fresh chilli. If you are gluten free, try making this oat-based pancake batter at home and bringing it with you in a jar (making sure the oats are certified gluten-free, of course).
Gluten-free oat and cottage cheese pancakes
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese
Makes 8 pancakes
Blitz all the ingredients together in a blender and then use like a normal pancake batter. You’ll be amazed at how light, fluffy and delicious they are.
…and keep refuelling!
Lunch and dinner are also easily achievable. My top tip is bringing something out of your freezer. A lovely homemade soup, a fragrant curry or a tasty ragù sauce would be perfect – let it defrost over the weekend and then simply reheat and serve with the appropriate fuss-free accompaniment. I easily fed ten people at a festival with a pot of beef shin ragù from my freezer, two packets of pasta and a small block of Parmesan, and I’ve never been more popular.
If you’re vegan, a coconut based curry is an excellent option. You can make your sauce or paste in advance and just add vegetables to it. Try Jamie’s lovely coconut-based vegetable curry.
Other great camping meals include quesadillas – a filling of cheese, black beans and spring onion is particularly good – obviously you can replace the cheese with whatever you fancy if you’re vegan, maybe some guacamole. Quick noodle dishes like Jamie’s Hungover noodles are also fantastic. These can be easily made vegan with the elimination of the fried egg, or gluten free with the right pasta. Sweet, salty, tangy veggie buckwheat noodles with tons of vegetables will provide the perfect nourishment for your tired body. With a few simple tweaks you can suit everyone’s needs.
Preparation is key. Plastic or bamboo plates are great (so they don’t got soggy), as is proper cutlery and a good, small fold-away knife – I like a serrated one as it’s so versatile. Make sure you have a small bottle of olive oil, a sandwich bag of salt and pepper mixed together, added extras like seeds, nuts, chillies and herbs go a long way and condiments are an absolute essential.
So if you want to enjoy a festival without worrying about the purse strings too much, or if you’re vegan or gluten free and dread trundling around the site in pursuit of something that will satisfy you, get planning, and work together with your friends to create some delicious campsite meals. Some of my best moments at festivals have been sat around our camp stove cooking, laughing and generally have a very nice time.
Make sure to check out our other awesome special diets-related stuff.