Chewing the Fat
I love food, about the same as I love sleep. Literally, the only thing that gets me out of bed before two on a weekend is the excitement of breakfast. This is why dragging myself off my mattress, into real clothes for the first time this week, and somehow to the bus station to begin my two hour trek to the Cardiff Food Festival, was worth the bleary eyes and hoarse swearing. Food. Lots, and lots of food. Being a vegetarian makes people think I eat nothing but salads and apples, not true. I’m actually pescetarian, but not even Microsoft Word knows what that means.
When my friend and I arrived, past the cockroach-shaped Millennium Centre, the festival had only just begun, but it was swarming with eager Welsh foodies. The food stalls were above the bandstand, offering a variety of different cultural foods, shaming the pantry of Wolfgang Puck. The seafood stall caught our attention first, which advertised lobster and crab dishes, but the hefty price sent us poor graduates running. We got some creamy Welsh ice cream cones from one of the tents, and wandered among the crowds. There was a “Dangerous Food” stall which we fought to see, but were disappointed by the miniscule jars of ghost chilli jam, birds-eye chilli jam, and for some reason, garlic salt.
Mostly though, we talked. Caitlin and I have been best friends since the first day of year 10 when we found out we had the same name, but haven’t seen each other for a year. There was a lot to catch up on. Her ‘little’ brother is now a towering 6ft, has had two girlfriends, and still believes I’m secretly in love with him. Or gay with his sister. Probably both. We chatted for four hours at a restaurant overlooking the festival, unwilling to queue for food. We drank too much, fought two very brave flies off our almost identical pasta dishes, and enjoyed the silly music being played below us.
We watched people carrying cartons of cider, plaid pillows with “Cwtch” or “Cariad” embroidered across them, styrofoam chip cartons with curries and paella. Everyone sat wherever they could; on steps, the concrete in front of the bandstand, on each other; we were lucky to have nabbed seats so quickly.
Before we knew it, there was human gridlock; bodies wedged together in the Roald Dahl Plass. There must have been over five thousand people shimmying around the stalls in the surprise heat. The forecast had been 20 degree clouds, but despite the rain of the morning, my arms and nose had gotten burnt. Caitlin and I swapped seats, to a table under a straw umbrella, pale as the white stone pillars around us. I borrowed this week’s lighter from a man sitting next to us, he was totally confused, as was everyone, why I was standing by the balcony taking a photograph of a lighter. He told me to “keep the lighter, keep the memories”. I’m not even sure what that means.