Have you had the pleasure of attending Singapore’s Savour Food Festival? If so, you might be asking why you would travel for food when Singapore has some of the best food in the world and Michelin Star chefs. The answer is simple: to get a sneak peek into another culture and for the entertainment. These food festivals are not only about the food but also about showcasing the quirky character and history of a place.
We have curated the craziest food festivals in the world that will make you want to pack your bags, scratch your head from amusement, and rub your belly with pleasure.
Food Fight – Where Foodies get to Play
A throwback to the days where throwing your food at each other was more fun that eating it. These food festivals encourage using edible objects as projectiles. The most famous of the bunch is Spain’s La Tomatina – the world’s biggest tomato food fight. In mid August, locals and visitors flock to Bunol to throw, smash, and dance around in tomatoes. You can describe the aftermath as pure madness with tomato “blood” everywhere. One wonders what a private chef would say about this mess. Here is some more Mediterranean food madness.
For a softer yet equally messy food festival head to Greece’s Clean Monday Flour War. Alevromoutzouroma – the smudging flour custom – occurs the last day of the carnival season. Participants get ready by marking their face with charcoal and dying bags of flour bright colours. Once the cowbell rings, it’s a free for all with flour thrown every which way. Villagers celebrated Carnival in opposition of the Ottoman occupiers. They coloured their faces with ash and danced in circles. This practice evolved into the all inclusive flour war. Here is some more food inspiration.
For Potato Heads
The U.S.’s Barnsville Potato Days Festival takes “food fight” to the next level. This food festival celebrates the small town’s abundance of potatoes and the role it plays in the local economy in August. One of the potato festival’s highlights is a wrestling match in mashed potatoes, where two pairs go head to head to battle it out.
As Dangerous as it Gets
Instead of using food as a projectile, England’s The Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake uses food as inspiration for exercise. Locals and visitors alike chase after a 3-4 kg round cheese down the hill on the Spring Bank Holiday. This is not a simple as it sounds as the cheese can reach speeds over 100 km/h. The first one down the hill wins the cheese. Just make sure your shoe laces are tied before you start – there are bones to be broken. Let’s see what else can be done with cheese.
Australia’s Chinchilla Melon Festival is a relatively new food festival that celebrates the abundance of the melon in Chinchilla in February. While there are many competitions at this food festival, the most notable is fruit skiing. Yes, fruit skiing. Participants dig each foot into a separate watermelon and hold on tightly to a rope while being dragged along a plastic tarp. The goal is to ski to the other end without falling as fast as you can, testing speed and agility. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty as this competition is just as messy as the food fight festivals.
Buns for Buddha
Hong Kong’s Cheung Chau Bun Festival combines speed, agility, balance, and strength – the most challenging of the competitions. Participants race to the top of 20 m high bun towers on Buddha’s birthday. The goal is reach for the highest buns for the greatest fortune. What better way to start a meal than a little exercise and good fortune?
Pancakes All Day
Finally we get to travel to eat! Crazy food festivals always have a lot going on. But, as foodies we are there to eat. Ready to explore a variety of dishes using one main ingredient? Fly to Russia for Maslenisa, a week full of pancakes – blinis. What started as a day to remember the dead, this food festival now celebrates the coming of spring the week before Lent. If you only have a few days make sure you are there Wednesday for all types of pancakes and local foods. On Wednesday mother in-laws treat their son-in-laws to a stack of pancakes. The son in-laws return the favour on Friday. How about some Russian Crepes to start with?
For those that follow a healthy lifestyle, head to the U.S. for the Gilroy Garlic Festival. While garlic is used in so many dishes throughout the world, what makes this food festival “crazy” is the innovative and boundary pushing combinations that are served. If you are ready to have garlic in sweets, like ice cream or soft drinks, book your ticket now. Just make sure your partner eats just as much garlic as you or bring tons of breath mints.
Bugs are full of Proteins
If you want to take health to the extreme, head to The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ BugsFest in September. Local chefs whip up delectable dishes using bugs as the main ingredient – a lean and sustainable source of protein. These aren’t the typical chocolate covered grasshoppers, but rather elevated gourmet style eats.
Bring the Food Festival Home
You don’t need to stuff your luggage with jars full of tomatoes to bring these food festivals home with you. Use a particular food festival and the place it’s held as inspiration for your next private dining experience.
Don’t want to buy an ice cream machine for garlic any time soon? That’s okay. Use the garlic in other ways to craft a multi-course private dining experience. Enlist the help of a private chef to recreate some of best food you had at the festival – a Michelin Star meal. If you are a little more adventurous, try switching out the garlic for bugs. You might want to have a private chef prep at the least.
You might want to start with a food festival that is easier to clean up. Get your travel planners out and clear your schedule for some crazy food festival fun.