Food-related social gatherings are an integral part to the human spirit. It’s an exchange in culture and, more often than not, it’s a chance to accept that culture. In his 2000 autobiography Kitchen Confidential, celebrated chef and writer Anthony Bourdain wrote, “I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure.”
If that’s the case, Bourdain would get along pretty well with the modern music festivalgoer. The most skilled of our kind has a number of Bonnaroos, Coachellas, or Lollapaloozas under their belts, in addition to some sacred rarities that would make the average reader here cry. But outside of seeing unique performances, they’ve also tasted a number of eats specific to that festival or area. If you want to talk about risk, here’s a nice picture: You’re about to eat some kind of strange meat you’ve never tried in your life and you’re 100 miles away from a traditional bathroom. That enough, Tony?
Risk has its rewards, naturally, and over the years Consequence of Sound has dabbled in a spoil of riches. With that in mind, we scaled back our taste buds and put together a rogue’s gallery of our favorite eats from various music festivals across the world. Some of our picks might startle your bellies (remember, it is festival food), others might make them ache with hunger. But really, our gang is a bunch of picky eaters, so there’s gotta be something for everyone here. Having said that, we’re open to suggestions, especially this time around.
Festival: Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
Location: Manchester, TN
What: Alligator Tail deep fried in crispy batter. Sure, you didn’t have to fight the alligator to get it, but someone did. And that’s awesome.
Taste Factor: 5. Not terribly tasty, but definitely a textural heaven. Also it’s made of alligators.
Best for: On the side of some spicy jambalaya in the hot sun, you’ll sweat out the calories right away.
Eaten by: Michael Zonenashvili
Festival: Governors Ball
Location: New York, NY (Randall’s Island)
What: Remember Bánh mÃ¬ sandwiches? Neither do I, because I discovered Asiadog. Not only does it embody the Great American Food Mashup, it’s hard to argue with pate, aioli, and pickled daikon. Just be sure to get two.
Taste Factor: 7. Really depends on which ones you get, and in which combination. Time’s limited at festivals, so decision-making time compromises its desirability.
Best for: Lunch or dinner.
Eaten by: Harley Brown
Festival: The Great GoogaMooga
Location: Brooklyn, NY
What: Like cupcakes, Asian-derived meat buns are kind of a fad. But Baohaus elevates this from the pages of an eat-this-now column to something that will make you never want to eat fried chicken again unless it’s encased in a pillow of dough and drizzled with orange ambrosia.
Taste Factor: 10. Just be careful of getting sauce on your face and bun in your teeth lest you start a feeding frenzy.
Best for: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can even stash some in your pockets for later.
Eaten by: Harley Brown
Cajun Duck Po Boy
Festival: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Location: New Orleans, LA
What: Well, the name’s pretty self-explanatory, but hey, there’s lettuce and pickles in there, too.
Taste Factor: 7.5. I’m sure the crawfish ones are better — considering that’s what most people were eating — but goddamn those seafood allergies of mine. For now, the duck does it.
Best for: A pre-headliner snack, right as the Louisiana sun is cutting you some slack.
Eaten by: Michael Roffman
Chicago Diner Gyros
Festival: Pitchfork Music Festival
Location: Chicago, IL
What: You won’t find better vegan simulcra than The Chicago Diner and the toast of their menu are the gyros. Even for people who don’t like fake meat (me), you (almost) can’t tell you’re eating synthetic lamb shavings.
Taste Factor: 6. Only because I now think of it as synthetic lamb shavings.
Best for: Impressing your vegetarian boyfriend or girlfriend.
Eaten by: Jeremy D. Larson