Nothing gets the mouth watering and tummy trembling quite like a food festival. Streets lined with vendors, the smells of all the different types of food being freshly prepared, and people, literally, everywhere.
Its that last part that can cause all kinds of heartburn and indigestion before you even sample your first skewer of kangaroo loin or bowl of sautéed snail.
Have no fear – I’m here to give you the idiots guide to surviving your first food festival. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be both satiated and satisfied, keeping your focus where it should be – on all the delicious food offerings.
Have a Plan
One of the things that can be most intimidating about a food festival are the options. How the heck does anyone decide what to eat? There are so many choices, so many delectable bites, how can one person possibly sample all of them?
Having a plan in place ensures that your post-fest food coma brings you good dreams, not nightmares.
Whether its variations of the same food you’re after, or you’re a ‘one of everything, please’ kind of eater, making a plan is key. Most food fests will provide a map and a sample of what each booth is offering. Get your hands on one of these and circle the spots you want to hit. Don’t forget to include places to drink – what’s a food fest without sampling a few craft beers or local gins along the way?
Map It Out
Now that you’ve figured out what you want to eat, the next step in your successful food fest journey is to map out your route.
You want to be efficient in your movements, obviously, but you also need to balance out your eating. Are all the sweets located in one area? Are the exotic meats off to one side? Planning your route in relation to the food stands you want to hit is key – balance is what you’re after. You don’t want to start off with the deep-fried Snickers, and then bounce to the macaroons – you’ll be in a sugar coma before you get to the gin-infused tomato soup or fresh oysters.
Get the map, find out where the food you want to eat is located, and then make a logical path. Your stomach will thank you when you eat in a pattern its used to.
Show Some Flex
The whole point of creating the plan and map is because once you arrive, the place is likely to be chaos. Pretty much every food festival feels like its run by a bunch of hippie liberals that don’t know how to plan anything – lines aren’t formed correctly, people are trying to pay with cash instead of using the pre-paid tokens like decent eating citizens – it can be a mess. Once you finally locate your food booth of choice, the food is sold out or the line is around the block.
Knowing where you want to go is key – if the line is long, if you can’t stand to wait anymore for the damn tourists to make up their minds – just move on to the next spot.
Food fest are supposed to be relaxing, enjoyable outdoor events. After all, what’s better than being allowed to wonder around in the streets eating and drinking all day? Don’t freak out if things don’t go exactly to plan – the whole point of making the plan was for moments like this – just move to the next spot on the list. There’s plenty of food here, after all.
Don’t fret about parking
Parking is going to be a bitch – there’s almost no doubt about it. Here’s the thing – at a food fest, its almost a blessing.
After you gorge yourself for a few hours eating all kinds of fabulous dishes, a short walk can really help get yourself back to neutral. It might seem like a pain when you first arrive, having to walk a ways to get to your first bite – like a kid having to wait until his older brothers are awake before opening presents are Christmas day – but it will pay off in the end. That post-food fest walk back to the car goes a long way to making the rest of the day bearable.
Or, it can be used to walk and eat those chocolates you said you would save for later.
It’s really that simple – have a plan, but don’t freak out if you need to call a quick audible on that plan, and enjoy the post-fest walk to your transportation. If you do that, all your worries will go away and you can sit back, relax, and eat.