Reporting Luke McKinney
Food festivals! That should be all anyone should have to say. A food festival should turn a city into the empty start of a zombie movie, because all the people have escaped their boring lives to feast on flesh. The entire point of building cities was gathering everyone together so that the food-bringers could get closer to all the less useful people.
Food festivals are better than Christmas, because everyone there is better than Santa: you don’t have to wait, or be good, and they always give you exactly what you ask for–and if you do get coal, you can use it to roast meat. These orgies of the olfactory are how we celebrating winning at nature so hard that for us a “food chain” isn’t animals which can eat us, but a global network of buildings dedicated to us eating them.
We’ve reached the stage in human progress when prominently staked ribcages in full public view is a good thing for approaching strangers.
Food festivals are where eating finally catches up with the other indulgences. A night out automatically implies a range of interesting drinks, and also allows you to indulge other biological urges. (So does a night in, thanks to liquor stores and the the intenet). But too many people still treat food as a chore, or an unpleasant medical procedure: a biological need to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Food is pure contentment. The meaning of life is to stay alive, and food is the most rewarding of the vital requirements. Water simply ends thirst, and reproductive sex is only the start of a whole host of extra jobs, but good food flips the soul switch marked “everything is fine.” A steak sandwich confers more and deeper well meaning than a decade meditating in a monastery. Because monks are all vegetarian. A kebab skewer of Turkish spiced pepperoni is how salt says it loves you. A shot glass of pure chocolate is molten joy.
Food is the most fundamental truth of life, and food festivals reveal all advertising BS for the lies they are. The “Health food” companies in attendance look like cardboard cutouts in a swimsuit competition. You should be suspicious of any food whose main advertising point isn’t how good it is to eat. The food festival reveals the health shills for the buzzworders they truly are, booths of banners and words wedged between mountains of food, the fixed grins of marketers looking weak and stressed between jolly butchers and bakers.
When you’re selling what looks and often tastes like herbal soap next to half a roasted pig, you may be in the wrong place. Food festivals are for people who celebrate eating, not those who spreadsheet it.
Devouring your way through a small town, where all the natives welcome you and offer you everything they have – it’s the good opposite of a Viking rampage, with even more feasting. The Brazilian BBQ asked if I wanted the full steak burger, the barman asked if I wanted the full pint of dry cider, and a wandering sample distributor inquired if I’d like a shot of a whiskey named after monkeys. Basically, food festivals are carnivals of rhetorical questions.
They’re also where you find the Mad Scientists of eating, the crazed geniuses whose unholy feats cannot be contained within the walls of the (regular dining) establishment. Cost-inefficient glories, like Chorizo in a Blanket, which is what happens when someone decides that the sausage roll – the perfect snack, meat wrapped in a plate you can eat – can be made even better. Madnesses like gin & tonic-flavored popcorn, which prove that it’s possible to entirely succeed and still not make something people should eat more than once. Or even sorcerous crimes which look like the internet itself escaped into real space.
That shouldn’t work. That’s stupid. That’s some “soRandom” internet LOLer escaped into the real world and attempting to ruin our most wonderful things. And it is glorious.
Leonard Pig Candy must employ bacon-based materials scientists and necromancers, because that dead pig is tuned to the exact texture required to make this work. That’s a more precisely balanced process than a fusion reactor. Note the lower-left red patch: the bacon is perfectly perched at not-quite-crispy crystal, a solid red shard of unburned brilliance. Dry yet tasty, firm yet chewable, synchronizing with the dark chocolate so impossibly you wonder if you were the idiot for doubting them. No. No, you weren’t. You were absolutely right that this is a stupid idea. You were also lucky enough to find someone to prove you wrong.
I have never seen the like before or since. But I go to every food festival there is searching for more, and so should you.