Friday, 17 August 2012

A Festival. A Festival of Food.

 If you go down to Battersea Park today, you are sure of a big surprise.
 You will walk amongst the trees and along the lakes and see the geese drying their feathers on the banks and think that it is a normal sunny day in a normal sunny park in London.

But then you will smell the food. Over the tops of the trees there drifts an aroma, first of barbecue and charcoal, then of bread, then as you get closer you can sniff something sweet (Pancakes? Banana loaf? Ice cream?). You close your eyes and follow your nose until you come to a gate that reads 'Foodies Festival' and you find yourself wandering into a maze made of food.

 There is a stand selling French pastries and crusty loafs dusted with flour and poppy seeds.
 Each loaf has a different name and each pastry smiles at you with a mouth of raisins or sticky apricot lips.
 You sniff one last fix of freshly baked bread before moving onto the cheese stands. Cocktail sticks invite you to prick squares of cheddar. There are tangy mature cheeses that wake up your mouth and cheeses that are full of flavours, some expected (garlic, onion) and some not so (sticky toffee, strawberry. Yes. Sticky toffee and strawberry cheese. You decide to give it a try and suddenly everything you thought you knew about life has been thrown upside down. Because sticky toffee cheese is actually amazing).
 After the cheese it is time for a fishy interlude. You head to a stall selling mussels and chips and eat lemony mussels out of a cardboard box, using a shell for a spoon and scooping up the lemon and onion sauce.
 As you eat you lean against a tree and sip the cider you just bought from a bar selling 16 varieties of natural cider. If you could put an orchard in a cup, you think to yourself, this is what it would taste like.
 For the rest of the afternoon the question is not just what to eat (Turkish Delight? Baklava? Cheesy vegetarian sausages? Chunks of bread and olive oil?), but what to drink...
 There are mojitos and coconut water cocktails (drunk out of cocounuts with straws pierced through the shell) and caramel rum (that you try and that tastes like alcoholic Werther's Originals). There is Pimm's and champagne and beer and gin and wine.

 You sit in the sunshine for a while and listen to a musician (whose voice you could eat) and think about how wonderful it is to be alive.

And there is still so much left to see (and taste)...

 As the sun starts to sink beneath the trees you begin to make your way out of the park, back through the stands that you have explored like a dedicated traveller discovering unmapped lands. You take another little nibble of the lemon meringue flavoured fudge you have just bought. And you smile.

  It is golden and warm in Battersea Park, but your belly is full, your feet are tired and it is time to leave. You walk to the station and wait for the train, feeling utterly content.

Today has been a good day. Because today I went to the Foodies Festival and ate my way around Battersea Park. Tonight I shall dream in food. Tomorrow I shall cook.


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