I’ve just spent the long weekend at The Hay Festival a ten day international book fest set in Hay-on-Wye in the Welsh Brecons. With some thirty major bookshops it has been famous as the world’s largest secondhand and antiquarian book centre since 1961. While there are some perfectly reasonable pubs and cafes around town, (I ate the best beef wellington of my life at the Old Black Lion), none of them serve raw food other than the lettuce leaves in the prawn cocktail I saw on a fellow diner’s table.
While the town is about nothing but books, the festival is really a series of lectures and discussion by and with recently published authors from a range of backgrounds covering a range of subjects. This year, amongst other published celebrities, economic and political commentators and literary greats I managed to see foody legends Jay Rayner and Heston Blumenthal but just missed out on Monty Don speaking about his new book Fork to Fork.
But what do people eat at a literary festival?
Other than the delicious, organic and locally grown punnets of raspberries, blueberries, cherries and strawberries, I noticed that my bookish fellows queued around the block for sheep’s milk icecream, venison burgers, crisps, cider, pimms, ploughman’s cheese boards, and the fudge. I have to say it did look tasty and I was impressed that it was at least all local produce, but it was absolutely and utterly – not raw.
So it seems the tastebuds of Hay Festival bookworms do not veer towards to raw food.
The suprising news, even to me, is that I resisted all of it except for the Burnt Sugar fudge, which after a bag full, gave me such a sugar high that I didn’t get to sleep until 2am. Thankfully, the next day I managed to find a fresh salad stall and stocked up on an onion and carrot salad, lettuce leaves and seasoned cucumber. Combined with my bag of apples, the berries as above, and my nakd bars, I was happy.
The festival was interesting, frustrating, thought-provoking, exciting, comforting and inspiring. My brain feels stretched beyond recognition and besides my fudge feast and a brief encounter with a dried up piece of cod, I was for once, an under-control raw foodist…